Planning committee co-chair responds with condescending, hostile messages; continues to deny Ottawa plans for wind turbines
October 11, 2022
While Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) prepares to launch new procurement initiatives for power generation, and wind power developers line up to apply for contracts, at least one councillor with the City of Ottawa denies the need for the city to issue protective bylaws for noise and setbacks for health and safety now.
Ottawa Wind Concerns has been updating the Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee (ARAC) as well as city staff charged with developing new zoning bylaws on both the need for protective regulation and the fact that other municipalities have already taken these steps. We made a presentation to ARAC in April, detailing the need for protective regulations, emphasizing that current provincial rules are inadequate.
Recently, we submitted letters to both the Planning Committee and ARAC warning that if the IESO opens the door to new wind power proposals, it will be too late to create bylaws for noise and setbacks. Ottawa needs to take action now, before proposals are made.
Here’s what we told ARAC:
SUBMISSION TO CITY OF OTTAWA AGRICULTURAL AND RURAL
Urgent need for protective zoning bylaws for wind power projects/wind turbines
September 28, 2022
This is a follow-up to our submission and presentation on April 7th by Ottawa Wind Concerns
board member Michael Baggott, requesting protective zoning bylaws and a setback distance of
at least 2 km for industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines. We have discussed this
presentation with the Carleton Landowners and have their support in making this submission.
What is new:
The Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO is launching several Requests for
Proposal, to acquire 3,500 megawatts of new power generation. (Reference:
The IESO has released a list of Qualified Applicants, of which more than a dozen are wind
One new contract has already been awarded (an extension to Melancthon I) and wind power
developers have already announced their intention to propose new projects. (Capital Power,
September 22, Windsor, Ontario)
The City of Ottawa confirms that it wants “predominately wind and solar” power to achieve
climate action goals (reference: climate manager Mike Fletcher), repeated by climate manager
Andrea Flowers to the environmental protection committee May 17th: “We have explicitly said
[our plans] would include wind and solar.”
The IESO has released a set of draft documents related to municipal approval and community
engagement. Deadline for stakeholder comment is September 30.
As documented previously, Ontario current setback for noise of 550m is inadequate and not
aligned with regulation in other jurisdictions today.
Setback from roadways, public pathways etc. not adequate for protection
Once proposals are made, and officially submitted, a zoning bylaw cannot apply to those
proposals. (Future ones, yes)
Ottawa citizens, particularly those in rural areas who would be forced to have these power
generation projects, are very concerned about noise pollution, impacts on property value,
effects on the aquifer and private water wells, as well as the risk to wildlife including endangered
This was acknowledged by Ottawa staff Andrea Flowers on May 17 when she said the City
would respond to concerns with appropriate zoning.
This cannot wait.
Protective zoning bylaws for grid-scale wind turbines are needed urgently, before any proposals
for new wind power development come forward.
We understand that the City is engaged in developing new bylaws connected to the new Official
Plan, but this bylaw or set of bylaws cannot wait until second quarter of next year when the new
draft bylaws could be presented.
An option would be for a resolution to the effect that the CIty of Ottawa will not review or
approve any proposals for new power generation until after the new bylaws come into effect.
In a meeting we had with Councillor Eli El-Chantiry and ARAC chair on this subject in 2019, we
were told that municipalities can act quite quickly if they have to.
The time to “act quickly” is now.
Two days before the ARAC meeting, Ward 21 Councillor Scott Moffatt ( a member of ARAC and also Planning co-chair) sent this message.
I’ll try to be direct so that your Twitter account doesn’t spin my words.
As it stands today, the City does not have an explicit zone that permits wind turbines. All we have is the pending Official Plan which seeks to prohibit their installation in the Agricultural Resource Area. You and I both know that the Province is not required to adhere to municipal policies and by-laws. Nevertheless, the City has committed to reviewing this matter as part of its upcoming Zoning By-Law process.
What you are seeking is a more immediate zoning setback. What you are not considering is that to apply a zoning setback, you need an explicitly permissive zone. I don’t believe the residents of Ottawa would appreciate a quick greenlighting of wind turbines on their properties just so that we can implement a setback that may or may not be respected by the Province.
My position on this has always been that we cannot bury our heads and assume that wind will never come. I’ve also said that there was no current application process for wind, which your Twitter account spun and mocked. Regardless of the recent IESO announcement, I still don’t foresee this current Provincial Government approving wind but they won’t always be in power. While the City will not be an applicant for wind power, we should ensure we prepare for what could come. That led to the OP inclusion and the future zoning discussion. For the sake of the communities you want to represent, I would not recommend rushing that process.
The message was copied to every member of both committees. Not one of them countered the inaccuracies in the message.
- The City doesn’t need an “explicit zone” that permits turbines. True, the Official Plan says where they may NOT go, but it is absurd to say that a turbine zone must be described in order for there to be setback or noise regulations, or even a general policy statement. The City already has bylaws about where development may or may not be located, and bylaws governing noise in communities etc. The City has the option to create a resolution, as we suggested, to note its policy intentions, which would help protect in case any proposals come forward now.
- “The Province is not required to adhere to municipal policies”—municipalities are free to create their own bylaws, which several have already done with regard to wind turbine noise limits, setback distances, and height restrictions. Yes, the province could enact something like the Green Energy Act which blatantly removed municipal powers, but the current government restored them in 2019. Not going backwards.
- Protective bylaws constitute “greenlighting” of wind power projects???
- “No current application process for wind”: that was exactly our point. One is coming. And it’s coming fast. We simply asked the City to take steps to protect the residents of rural communities BEFORE it becomes impossible to do so.
- The City won’t be an “applicant” for wind power. Maybe not but the $57B Energy Evolution plan and statements by staff make it clear the city’s climate action plan is to increase electricity available which they intend to do by “predominately wind and solar” (City staff quote). So Ottawa may not be an “applicant” but it certainly intends at the moment to encourage wind power development. One of the “catalyst projects” is to have 20 megawatts of wind turbines by 2025. (We learned via documents obtained under Freedom of Information request that the project is “on hold” while the Province reviews requirements for net metering.)
- Our Twitter account does not engage in “spin” or “mockery.” Our goal is to inform. The fact is, the City of Ottawa has been woefully unaware of, or wilfully ignoring, Ontario’s disastrous history with expensive, unreliable and ineffective wind power. Why? What’s the agenda?
We showed this response to colleagues who are or who have in the past been municipal councillors and their reaction was that this response was puzzling at a minimum, and disrespectful of community concerns. One commented that the purpose of the response could be taken to be an attempt to “throw you off the scent.”
We also consulted an urban planner who remarked that Mr. Moffatt’s response was “garbled and condescending.” The planner was surprised at the lack of understanding from a co-chair of the city’s planning committee, and additionally that Ottawa is not further ahead on this matter, as are other jurisdictions. “Not forward-thinking” was the planner’s comment.
Again, not one member of the Planning Committee countered the inaccuracies.
We can only hope now that the next Council is committed to a review of the problematic Energy Evolution plan, at least as far as the electricity generation proposals (written for the city by an activist group) are concerned, and that the next Planning Committee is more interested in awareness of current events and potential impacts on rural communities.
Election Day is October 24; next Advance Poll is October 14. Ask questions of candidates NOW and choose wisely.
List of IESO Qualified Applicants for new power contracts. Check the companies that are wind power developers. Conclusion: wind is coming.