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.
Other jurisdictions choosing greater setbacks between homes and industrial wind turbines; Ontario has not changed since 2009. New setback of 2 km recommended
March 25, 2022
Complaints about wind turbine noise and environmental damage have never wound down in Ontario yet regulations to protect people and the environment have not changed since 2009, according to a story in this week’s Ottawa Business Journal.
While some landowners in the area signed up for “easy cash” by leasing land for wind turbines, they admit that the machines are noisy and may bother some people.
The need for wind power must be balanced with concern for health and safety, which is why greater setbacks have been recommended by Wind Concerns Ontario. The community group coalition recommends setbacks for any new wind turbines should be a minimum of 2 kilometres.
The Ontario setback currently is just 550 metres.
Other jurisdictions around the world and in the U.S. are now moving to greater setback distances.
Another issue of concern noted in the story was brought forward by Ontario’s MUlti-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group, a collection of municipalities with operating wind power projects and experience with impacts of the turbines.
The group is worried about the increasing number of wind turbine failures and says that setbacks from public roadways and property lines are inadequate to protect safety. The municipalities also say there is no process for alerting municipalities of a failure event, nor are the results of any engineering investigations shared.
After completion of its Official Plan, the City of Ottawa is now working on developing new zoning bylaws. Ottawa Wind Concerns has been sharing information with city staff, and hopes that new setbacks for wind turbines in the Ottawa area will reflect the trends to greater distances.
Ottawa’s rural politicians claim there are no plans for industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines, but city staff say the Energy Evolution calls for wind and solar to provide electricity for Net Zero goals.
Community group files request for review with Municipal Affairs ministry
February 24, 2022
Community group Ottawa Wind Concerns has filed a comment on the city’s Official Plan with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs over concerns about where the document ranks in Ottawa’s planning structure.
“Our worry is that Ottawa’s expressed view that the Energy Evolution document and climate change plan overrides all policies and action means statements in the Official Plan could be subject to amendment at any time,” chairperson Jane Wilson wrote in the group’s submission, filed yesterday.
“What we have is an Official Plan that looks like an Official Plan, but it also appears to have a back door through which the City can make changes and take action by using another plan—one that did not go through any public engagement process.”
The intent of an Official Plan in Ontario is that it is the single document which outlines the direction for the city, Wilson says. In the case of the City of Ottawa, this direction may actually be subordinate to the Climate Change Strategy and the Energy Evolution document.
The community group comment referred to page 23 of Ottawa’s new Official Plan where the city asserts: “The policies of this [Official] Plan should be read as supportive of the Climate Change Master Plan.”
And, on page 26, the City states, “The Climate Change Master Plan and associated Energy Evolution and Climate Resiliency strategies provide the analysis and action plans for City-wide action.”
Ottawa Wind Concerns said the group is worried about how this affects policy on renewable power generation facilities, specifically large or industrial-scale wind turbines.
The Energy Evolution document calls for the possibility of hundreds of wind turbines in the city’s rural areas in a model of how Net Zero might be achieved, while the Official Plan makes statements about industrial-scale wind turbines not being permitted on valuable agricultural land.
“Essentially, it looks like the City is saying, its Energy Evolution document trumps everything. We’re saying, that’s not how a municipality is supposed to use an Official Plan.”
The contents of the Energy Evolution document, approved by Council in 2020 with no public input, are not widely known among Ottawa’s citizens.
There has been criticism from media and analysts who have read it.
Local media branded the strategy document “an expensive pipe dream,” with its $57B (estimated) price tag. Political commentator Randall Denley said the Energy Evolution report was “only the beginning,” and promoted “unachievable goals.”
“How high are they prepared to raise taxes,” he asked, “and what existing services will they cut to fund their quixotic effort to save the planet?”
The City of Ottawa has a history of passing zoning amendments that result in public concern. For example, a zoning amendment was passed without the knowledge of even the local councillor for a large warehouse and truck depot in Barrhaven. That move caused newspaper columnist Kelly Egan to remark, “You know who doesn’t get what they want at city hall anymore? Ordinary people.”
Ordinary people in Ottawa’s rural communities sent emails and made telephone calls to councillors when the wind turbine model in Energy Evolution became known, and STOP THE OTTAWA WIND TURBINES signs went up from Kinburn to Navan, and south to North Gower and Manotick.
City councillors maintained that the Energy Evolution statements were just a “model” but the motion of wind power is present in many City documents and wind turbines are prominent in City banners and graphics. A recent submission to the Ontario Energy Board dated January 17th contained the whole Energy Evolution document, including the wind turbine model, as supporting evidence for the City’s objection to replacement of a natural gas pipeline.
“Everyone wants what’s best for the environment,” says Ottawa Wind Concerns Chair Wilson, “but the fact is, we should be making choices about what is shown to be effective and successful. Ontario is an example of how intermittent weather-dependent wind power doesn’t do anything for the environment, but it does have a huge impact on electricity bills and on communities. Giving the Energy Evolution strategy importance over the Official Plan means decisions can be made on what looks good, not what really is good.”
The community group has asked the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to look at both the Energy Evolution document and the draft Official Plan together, to make sure provincial directives are being followed.
Ottawa Wind Concerns filed its comment with the Ministry and was advised Thursday that the comments were accepted and reviewed, and will be posted publicly.
More analysis on the Energy Evolution document, coming soon.
An official plan describes your upper, lower or single tier municipal council or planning board’s policies on how land in your community should be used. It is prepared with input from your community and helps to ensure that future planning and development will meet the specific needs of your community.
An official plan deals mainly with issues such as:
where new housing, industry, offices and shops will be located
what services like roads, watermains, sewers, parks and schools will be needed
when, and in what order, parts of your community will grow
City Councillors say no, no, no, but illustrations on City publications say yes, yes, yes
December 9, 2021
After emails and telephone calls to their offices during the development of the new Official Plan this fall, which allowed wind turbines on prime agricultural land, Ottawa City Councillors claimed that the City has “no plans” for wind turbines.
Ward 21 Councillor Scott Moffatt, also the Chair of the Environmental Protection Committee, wrote in his constituent column in the Manotick Messenger that:
“A big part of that [the city’s climate action plan] will be renewable energy One of our Modelling documents shows what that looks like and includes mention of 700 industrial wind turbines. This has led some to believe that the City is planning on developing that many wind turbines in rural Ottawa. That could not be farther from the truth.”
But then, there is this: an illustration from the City’s Climate Action newsletter, which clearly depicts a wind turbine.
And, the City’s Planning department has this illustration on slide 10 of a recent public presentation, designed to show its various functions. It includes wind turbines as an example of land use planning.
Mr. Moffatt also said that the City was not “finding locations where wind development could occur.”
An email from staff, however, says this:
“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 …”
It is also worth noting that an illustration of the site plan for the Tewin development also features a depiction of wind turbines. (Apologies for the size of the image.)
The debut of Official Plan discussions shocked more than a few people back in July when Manager of Planning Policy Alain Miguelez revealed in an online public meeting that wind turbines were coming to Ottawa’s rural area—being “directed” there, he said. Because, he said, Ottawa was estimating an increase in population and as power demand rose, “that energy has to come from somewhere.” In other words, the rural communities.
In subsequent presentations staff tried to assure residents that they would “get it right” by developing protective zoning bylaws for wind turbines.
But councillors still say that’s not happening, and anyone who says it is, is fear mongering. The City did revise the renewable energy part of the Official Plan so that it now says “large-scale” wind turbines will not be permitted on “agricultural resource areas,” but that does not prevent applications for Official Plan amendments.
Councillors also say that while Ottawa is not actively planning wind turbines (in spite of Planning staff public comments and various illustrations that indicate the City is open to wind power), if proposals were to come along, Ottawa cannot say “No.” This is not correct, but more on that later.
Why the concern? Wind turbines are a highly invasive form of power generation, using a significant amount of land , creating noise pollution, and posing a serious risk to wildlife including birds and bats. Ottawa’s Energy Evolution plan does not include any mention of developing new nuclear, despite the fact that the federal government has spent millions on new nuclear, and Canada is a global leader in clean, reliable, emissions-free nuclear energy.
With Ottawa discussing encouraging wind power development in the City’s rural areas, it’s important to know exactly what they’re talking about when it comes to wind turbines.
First, they are not “windmills,” they are Wind Turbine Generators or Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs).
They are not “wind farms,” they are power generation facilities.
And, they are BIG. Very very big.
Here’s a suggested driving tour of the nearby Nation Rise wind power project
Embrun South to Cannamore via St Marie Street/County Rd 32
County road 13 into Crysler,
County road 12 to Berwick,
west on County road 9 to Goldfield road,
south to County road 43, turn west then south on the Stormont-Dundas Boundary to Concession 1-2.
East toward County road 12 (south of Finch), then back north on County road 12 into Finch, through Berwick, then Crysler north on County road 12 (to the 417) or turn west at (Harvex), concession 10-11 to Cannamore.
This route should give people an idea of the industrialization impact and the number of homes involved. You may not hear any noise, especially in this season when the turbines are not turning, or barely moving. You really have to stay in one of the homes over a period to experience the noise, sound pressure and vibration.
OK, so they’re big and unsightly, what else is wrong with wind power? It doesn’t work. Wind turbines are weather-dependent and thus, intermittent and unreliable. Today, Ontario’s power demand is over 15,000 megawatts while wind has produced 250-300 megawatts of power.
That’s not good enough.
Want a sign? Email us. Contributions to the cost welcome.
The City of Ottawa is strangely devoted to the idea that industrial-scale or grid-scale wind turbines are just an ordinary on-farm activity.
When the final draft of the new Official Plan was presented at last week’s public meeting, City staff maintained their position that the large wind power generators were an activity just like any other in the countryside, like corn mazes and produce stands.
“We know there are concerns,” said planning staff member Melissa Jort-Conway, adding that the City will be conducting consultations and that the community will have input when the situation gets to the zoning bylaw stage.
That’s not very reassuring when you consider that the process for new bylaws allows for ONE comment period.
Ward 21 Councillor Scott Moffatt said at the recent Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management committee meeting, which he chairs, that decisions aren’t always seen as fair by rural residents who are in the minority. They feel like they don’t get any say, he noted.
That is what happened south of Ottawa when the Ontario government under Kathleen Wynne approved one last wind power project, the 100-megawatt Nation Rise or Crysler project that encompasses hundreds of acres of land in North Stormont including the communities of Finch, Berwick and Crysler
Although the Wynne government had cancelled further wind power procurement in 2016, saying Ontario had enough power and it was more than 90-percent emissions-free, Nation Rise was approved in the Liberals’ last days. The community fought hard through an appeal which pointed out the risk of environmental noise, wildlife deaths and potential harm to the fragile aquifer. The communities remain divided after the bitter conflict.
In the recent heat wave in Ontario, wind power throughout the province failed to provide any significant amount of power during the days when demand was high to power air conditioning.
Now Ottawa is calling for as much as 3,200 megawatts of wind or more than 700 turbines by 2050.
Most Ottawa residents have never seen a modern wind turbine; their experience might be to see the turbines on Wolfe Island near Kingston which are some 18 km from highway 401–those are under 2 megawatts while turbines today are well over 3 megawatts in power rating, and stand 600 feet or more. The ExPlace turbine is downtown Toronto is less than one megawatt but works well as a backdrop for political and industry photos.
The facts: wind turbines do not fulfill any of the promises made for them by their promoters. They do not produce reliable power, they are highly invasive to the environment, the produce environmental noise pollution, and they do not contribute much toward any environmental action. They will use up valuable prime agricultural land, and they are most definitely NOT an on-farm activity, contributing to agriculture.
Yet Ottawa City Council seems to want them as highly visible “climate action” beacons.
Last night the City of Ottawa announced in a meeting to update rural communities on the revised Official Plan that the development of industrial-scale wind power facilities will be encouraged, and that these will be “directed” to Ottawa’s rural communities.
Staff claimed that renewable energy development — wind and solar — are a provincial direction, and the City has no choice but to pursue this.
“That is completely false,” says Jane Wilson, resident of North Gower and chair of community group Ottawa Wind Concerns. “The province is actually committed to affordable and reliable electricity —that’s not weather-dependent intermittent wind power.
“The City seems to ignore the disaster that wind power was for Ontario, and the role it played in creating energy poverty by boosting electricity bills by 270 percent,” Wilson said. “Wind turbines also have high impact on the environment, producing disturbing noise emissions, and killing birds and bats, which are important to the ecosystem.”
In fact, Ottawa’s Energy Evolution report proposes as much as 3,200 megawatts of wind power for the capital area, as many as 700 powerful turbines. The plan calls for 20 megawatts by 2025.
“There is no cost-benefit or impact analysis in that report, and no full, honest accounting to the people of Ottawa as to how much this will cost us all. Funding is supposed to come from the federal government so every Canadian taxpayer as Ottawa repeats the failed Ontario experiment with wind power,” Wilson said.
Huge grid-scale wind turbines are changing the landscape in North Stormont as the Nation Rise wind power project approaches commercial operation in June.
The photo above shows a view of the village of Crysler with two of the wind turbines visible. The Nation Rise turbines are 131 metres to the hub height, or 429 feet. The height to the blade tip is more than 600 feet.
There are 29 turbines in total in the industrial power project.
Wind Concerns Ontario reports that some residents have already experienced excessive noise and vibration from the turbines; they have been advised to call the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks Cornwall Office at 1-800-860-2760. If the call is outside of business hours, residents should call the 24/7 Spills Action Centre at 1-866-MOE-TIPS.
In both cases, caller should be given an Incident Report number, and should also keep a record of their call.
You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org to report problems; the company is required to pass along your complaint to the environment ministry.
An editorial in the Eastern Ontario edition of Farmers Forum says “Toronto” should never have imposed the 100-megawatt Nation Rise wind power facility on the communities of North Stormont.
In his editorial titled “How wind turbines scarred a landscape and a community,” editor Patrick Meagher notes that the township conducted a survey of residents and found most didn’t want the wind turbine development, and then unanimously voted to declare North Stormont an “Unwilling Host”.
“But things didn’t go that way,” Meagher writes.
Weeks before the provincial election in 2018, the Liberal government “greenlighted the project. This was in spite of a longstanding agreement not to approve major projects when another government could take over. Wynne got a two-for-one deal, sticking it to the next government and the locals at Crysler, Berwick and Finch.” (The riding went Conservative.)
The wind power project caused strong feelings, Meagher says. “The project was so acrimonious that in this small community friendships broke up, family members stopped talking to each other, and more than 10 property owners sold their houses and moved away.”
Now the community is “stuck” with 29 huge turbines that are “large, inefficient, taxpayer-subsidized generators of intermittent power…not even a good business decision.”
“This ugly event is testimony to why governments should listen to the people they work for…Toronto should never have decided what should happen in this small farming community 400 kilometres away.”
The editorial also quoted former mayor Dennis Fife who said the community now has to try to move on.
The 100-megawatt “Nation Rise” wind power project, being constructed in North Stormont in the communities of Finch, Crysler and Berwick, will be finished and operating by June, the developer EDPR told a community liaison meeting last week.
The project will provide power to more than 25,000 homes —sometimes. Wind power is weather-dependent, intermittent, and produced out of phase with demand in Ontario, at night, and in the warmer seasons of spring and fall.
A news story with more details was published in the Cornwall Standard-Freeholder. Read it here. Note the concerns the community still has about this project, and questions asked (without satisfactory answers) by Councillor Steve Densham.
The community filed multiple appeals of the approval of this project, which was done in the dying days of the Wynne Liberal government. Concerns were about environmental noise pollution, harm to wildlife including migratory birds and endangered species of bats, and the risk of harm to the local aquifer, which is designated as “highly vulnerable” by the provincial government.
Testing of the wind turbine operations should begin soon, and full operation is planned for June.
Anyone experiencing problems with noise, vibration or sound pressure, and/or problems with their water wells, should call the Ontario Spills Action Centre at 1-866-MOE-TIPS. The call centre is available 24 hours a day.
Be sure to get an Incident Report number if you call, and keep a record of your call for yourself.