Here from last week’s Wellington Times in Prince Edward County, is Rick Conroy’s account of the presentation to Council by Warren Howard, member of the Wainfleet group of municipalities (who started the Not A Willing Host campaign). The goal is to take what powers municipalities have left after the democracy-destroying Green Energy Act, and still take steps to protect citizens from the environmental noise produced by wind turbines.*
Industrial wind turbines on Wolfe Island.
PHOTO: HENRI GARAND
Coalition of municipalities seek to protect health and safety of residents near industrial wind turbines
It’s a simple plan. But it may be just the thing to slow down the epidemic of industrial wind turbines spreading across rural Ontario. Warren Howard is a councillor in the municipality of North Perth and lives in Listowel. He is a retired banker and understands bureaucratic processes better than most. He thinks he has come up with a way to thwart the provinces heavy handed Green Energy Act (GEA).
Howard’s plan is to create a bulletproof municipal bylaw that prohibits industrial noise in a rural area at night. That’s it. It sounds simple—and it is—but Howard has done his homework.
He has been working with municipal lawyer Kristi Ross. Together they have discovered that while the Green Energy Act took away virtually all the municipality’s tools to manage, control and oversee the construction of these massive structures in its community—it left intact provisions municipalities use to govern nuisance noise.
Howard believes any municipality may be able use these provisions to stop industrial wind development in its jurisdiction. He is looking to form a coalition of like-minded municipalities to jointly fund the crafting of a noise bylaw that will be enforceable and effective in discouraging industrial wind energy development, but won’t capture and impede other activities that may generate noise—such as agricultural operations.
It’s a fine line. Howard knows it. But he believes it can work.
Municipal bylaws can’t overtly defy or block provincial initiatives. So the Quiet Nights plan doesn’t seek to prevent turbines from making noise—it wouldn’t withstand a legal challenge. Instead the bylaw would only prohibit the machines from making noise at night. Further, the Municipal Act states that such a bylaw, if enacted in good faith by council, is not subject to a review by a court.
Warren Howard Municipal councillor in North Perth in Southwest Ontario
Howard points to a decision in Wainfleet in the Niagara region. There, the municipality was seeking two kilometre setbacks rather than the 500-metre setbacks prescribed in the GEA.
The wind energy developer had argued that the municipality’s efforts to protect the health and safety of residents should have no force because they frustrate the purpose of the province’s GEA. But while the Superior Court justice disallowed Wainfleet’s desired setbacks, it confirmed that municipalities retain the right to regulate noise nuisance in the Municipal Act.
It is through this narrow opening that Howard is hoping to lead municipalities seeking to control or limit the industrialization of their rural communities.
*NOTE: Back in 2010, journalist Mark Sutcliffe asked Prowind sales representative Bart Geleynse on his Ottawa Rogers TV talk show whether the wind turbines make noise. “Of course they do,” Geleynse replied. “They’re power plants.”