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The City’s “engagement” process can only work if people know about the Discussion Papers, and take advantage of opportunities to comment

Renewable energy development will be permitted in “Rural Countryside” and greenbelt. What does that mean? [Photo: Dorothea Larsen]

April 12, 2023

Are you OK with renewable energy facilities, including wind turbines, solar “farms” and battery storage systems, being built in Ottawa on “Rural Countryside” and greenbelt land?

Are you OK with every interchange on the 416 or 417 in Ottawa being rezoned to accept “industrial” and “logistics” (trucking distribution centres) buildings?

These are just two of the ideas in the City of Ottawa’s background documents or “Discussion Papers” that have been released for public engagement, while City staff write new zoning bylaws.

“People need to know about these discussion papers,” says Jane Wilson, chair of Ottawa Wind Concerns, “and the whole engagement process will be better if everyone, including rural residents, can comment.”

“The fact is, even the so-called ‘Rural’ Issues paper, the content is decidedly urban in focus,” Wilson says. “The paper calls for renewable power projects in the rural areas but says nothing about the risks of industrializing rural communities that way. There is no acknowledgement of the noise that would come from power projects, the loss of woodlands and farmland, the danger to groundwater sources, and the loss of property value when quiet communities literally become power plants.”

For wind turbines, the City will be looking at setback distances and noise limits. The City is allowed to create its own regulations for this, following the repeal of the Green Energy Act in Ontario, which took away municipal land use planning power for renewable energy projects. However, all that exists are the Ontario regulations which are unchanged since 2009—a lot of turbines (and noise complaints) have happened since then!

The goal is to help with the process

Ottawa Wind Concerns is hosting several informal drop-in events where residents can get copies of the Discussion Paper summaries, see a map of the zoning in Ottawa’s new Official Plan (where is the “Rural Countryside” anyway? You might be surprised.), pick up fact sheets, and fill out the City of Ottawa survey in response to the Discussion Papers. The survey only allows 160 characters in the online version, but people are free to add detailed comments by using a paper copy, or attaching a letter.

The goal is to help City staff be aware of resident—rural resident—concerns.

Ottawa Wind Concerns is also sponsoring a petition to ask that the City institute a 2-km setback between industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines. It will be available for signatures at the drop-in events.

The first date is April 20th at Alfred Taylor Recreation Centre in North Gower, drop in anytime between 5-7 PM.

Next is a drop-in April 26th at the Kinburn Community Centre, Kinburn, 5-7 PM.