Current regulations inadequate to protect health, safety, Ottawa standing committee told today
Turbines and home inside Nation Rise power project
MEDIA RELEASE PUT DISTANCE BETWEEN WIND TURBINES AND HOMES, COMMUNITY GROUP TELLS CITY OF OTTAWA April 7, 2022, Ottawa—
The only way to prevent or mitigate problems with industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines is to put distance between the huge, noise-emitting machines, community group Ottawa Wind Concerns told Ottawa’s Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee (ARAC) today.
It is well known that the large, 60-storey wind turbines produce noise which can affect sleep and health; the machines can also pose a safety risk if located too close to roads, and a risk to wildlife such as birds and bats.
Ottawa Wind Concerns board member Mike Baggott of North Gower, asked that City Planning staff adopt a 2-kilometre setback between the power generating equipment and homes.
The recommendation is based on a recent statement by community group coalition Wind Concerns Ontario.
There are more than 2,000 wind turbines in Ontario presently, and the provincial government has more that 6,000 formal Incident Reports, documenting complaints about noise, many associated with health impacts.
Ottawa is currently engaged in developing new zoning bylaws following completion of the city’s new Official Plan. Ward 21 Councillor Scott Moffatt, a member of ARAC, said that there would be opportunity for rural residents to engage in the development of new bylaws to protect citizens, should wind power projects be proposed for Ottawa in the future.
Ottawa City staff have responded to queries about whether the City is planning wind turbines in the rural areas. Here is the response from a manager in the Climate Change and Resiliency Section.
Key point: the City of Ottawa is not directly procuring wind turbines BUT they are looking at where the turbines could go when developers come forward with proposals. That is a YES.
The City of Ottawa is not planning and does not have any intention of developing or installing large scale wind or solar renewable energy generation projects.
My team is responsible for developing and coordinating strategic policies, programs and plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resiliency to climate change in Ottawa. As part of this work, my team leads the Climate Change Master Plan and is supporting the development of the new Official Plan. Below is background information about both relate to wind projects.
Climate Change Master Plan
The City’s Climate Change Master Plan provides Ottawa’s overarching framework to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and respond to the current and future effects of climate change. As part of the plan, City Council aims to reduce GHG emission 100% by 2050. Energy Evolution is the action plan for how Ottawa will meet those targets. It modelled 39 actions and their relative GHG emissions reductions to achieve the targets and identifies 20 priority projects* to accelerate action and investment over the next five years (2020 – 2025). Both the Climate Change Master Plan and Energy Evolution identify embedding climate considerations in the new Official Plan as a priority project.
On January 1, 2019, the Green Energy Act was repealed which restored municipal authority over the siting of new renewable energy generation projects through amendments to the Planning Act. Residential and agricultural concerns about the siting of projects are now expected to be addressed through local municipal approvals. The current Official Plan and Zoning By-law are silent on renewable energy generation (REG).
The Draft Official Plan was released in November 2020 included REG as a Generally Permitted Use, but it did not specify where REG was permitted. Through public consultation, staff received feedback that renewable energy generation policies in the Official Plan should align with Energy Evolution.
Since the Draft Official Plan was released in November 2020, staff has worked to add policies to direct where large-scale renewable energy generation projects can be located in the rural area. The following describes the revisions:
The proposed policies direct where large-scale renewable energy generation projects as well as bio-energy projects are to be located in the rural area. It should be noted that such projects would also require a Renewable Energy Approval from the province.
The proposed policies are consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement for renewable energy generation in prime agricultural areas.
The proposed policies provide direction to establish zoning by-law provisions for renewable energy generation facilities to address nuisance impacts such as noise and shadowing. Public and stakeholder consultation will be undertaken on any new proposed zoning provisions following Council adoption of the Official Plan.
The revisions to the new Official Plan will be posted on the Official Plan webpage later this month. When it is released, additional detail will be provided about how to make public delegations at the statutory public meeting expected later this summer.
Upon approval of the new Official Plan, large scale projects that are initiated by energy developers would still require approval by the Province (i.e. under the Renewable Energy Approval or Environmental Activity Site Registry process). However, there is currently no provincial policy or procurement mechanism that allows renewable electricity to be sold to the grid (i.e., there is no immediate opportunity for large scale wind or solar development in Ottawa). Staff are currently undertaking a preliminary assessment of renewable energy generation potential within the rural areas identified in the new Official Plan to better understand how the potential compares to the Energy Evolution model requirements. This study is expected to be complete this summer.
So City staff are trying to deflect interest in and concern about high-impact wind power generation in our rural communities with a lot of words about the Official Plan.
The people of Ottawa generally and especially rural residents need to be able to discuss these proposals NOW. We also need the protective zoning bylaws NOW—if the City waits until proposals are made, they will be unable to enact anything, or the power developers can take legal action.
*One of the 20 projects is 20 megawatts of wind by 2025
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Go to the City’s website and read the Official Plan draft Section 4.11 HERE.