Bruce County mayors broke law by holding secret meetings

Municipal politicians in a region of Ontario that is home to one of the world’s largest nuclear power plants violated provincial law by holding secret meetings over the storage of radioactive waste, an outside investigation has found.

The probe followed complaints about years of undocumented discussions between the mayors who sit on Bruce County council and nuclear-waste representatives searching for a permanent storage site.

There was no notice of these council meetings given to the public

An investigator with a company that helps Ontario municipalities with closed-meeting procedure investigations concluded the mayors had breached the Municipal Act, which requires open meetings.

“There was no notice of these council meetings given to the public … no clerk or designate was present to take minutes, nor were any taken,” wrote Nigel Bellchamber of London, Ont.-based Amberley Gavel.

“The public was unaware of, and in no case attended, any of these meetings; nor was there any resolution to close them.”

National Post .. read more

 

 

Wind energy: beware, turbulence ahead

[Bernard Viau was the editor of the national newsletter for the Green Party of Canada. When he posted an article denouncing wind in early July, Green Party of Canada Opposes Placing Industrial Wind Farms too Close to Homesthere was such a backlash that he resigned his post.]

Wind farm projects are growing like mushrooms after a rainy day, but the air is turbulent in the wind industry. Industrial wind farms are not as nice and green as promoters want us to believe. Like an opponent puts it : “There is more here than immediately meets the eye with industrial wind generators, and often the devil is in the details.”

Pugwash in Nova Scotia, Wolfe Island in Ontario, Saint-Arsene in Quebec, and Edinbane in Scotland are actually living very stressful times. These small places are being called names by both industrialists and environmentalists because of their opposition to a green energy project.

Lots of other small places have the same problem in the world : Carrolltown in New York, Cairnbrook in Pennsylvania, Chilton in Wisconsin, Glenrock in Wyoming, Saint-Joseph in Manitoba, Greensburg in Kansas, Benjamin in West Virginia, Mount Hays in British Columbia, Sevenmile Hill in Oregon, Bagthorpe in England and many others.

Wind farm projects are growing like mushrooms after a rainy day, but the air is turbulent in the wind industry. Industrial wind farms are not as nice and green as promoters want us to believe. Like an opponent puts it : “There is more here than immediately meets the eye with industrial wind generators, and often the devil is in the details.”

Like a lot of other countries, Canada is actually facing a rush of private wind energy companies. Don’t be fooled, the money promoters are investing in wind energy has nothing to do with the environment. What these astute industrialists want is clear : profit from government Green Energy Projects, grab all incentive money available, commit as little as possible to local economy and then run or sell their wind farms to large income funds. All political parties are praising the wind energy but all, including the Green Party, are carefully avoiding the tough questions. The truth is that our politicians are misinformed, naïve and gullible. They all want to be known as green because nowadays for everyone, green is the politically correct colour to wear. The story is the same whether you live in Canada, in Australia, in Scotland or in France.

Don’t misunderstand me ! I believe that making a profit is a sign of good management. I have no anti-capitalistic thinking and I believe that the wealth of nations is built by entrepreneurs but I also strongly believe in responsible investment. A few years ago, I did sell one of the first Canadian tax shelter in the wind energy when I worked as a investment broker. Don’t give me that grap thinking about what is good for the economy and the global market. Buying garlic from China at the supermarket instead of buying it from local producers is totally stupid from a common sense point of view and some wind farms also defy pure common sense as you will see.

Most wind energy projects are industrial in size, ranging from 30 to 150 turbines. Simple people are often blinded by the very words “wind energy”. They cannot imagine that one could oppose so green a project as a wind farm. Well, I’m opposed to some industrial wind farm projects and for good reasons ! Wind farms do have downside effects : on the landscape, on health, on property value and also on our energy supply.

Wind farms may be built on private land but they affect the landscape, which is common property, so to speak. We judge things according to their potential return on investment. It is then only normal that promoters are at loss when one speaks of the “value” of a landscape. In Europe, citizens are complaining that miles of landscape have already been destroyed by wind farms and that people have been forced to leave their homes for health reasons. Let’s face it, a wind farm is like a forest of huge towers with intermittent headlights on top of them for airplanes ; nobody can miss them ! Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder but still, some landscape are exceptional and we need to protect them ; a wind farm project in front of Niagara Falls would certainly not gain public support in Canada.

The French National Academy of Medicine has called for a moratorium of all industrial wind farms within one and a half kilometers of any residence, because they felt there was a risk for people exposed to the sounds generated by the turbines. The United Kingdom Noise Association recommends the same. A number of health issues have already been raised and researchers have found a cluster of symptoms near industrial wind turbines : headaches, dizziness, nausea, exhaustion, anxiety, anger and irritability.

The wind industry has been trying to convince everyone that there is no problem with bird kills but independent scientific reports of bird and bat deaths near a wind facility estimates the annual death toll between three and six thousand, far worse than anything the wind industry is ready to admit publicly.

It is a well known fact in Europe that land value near a wind farm declines immediately because nobody wants to live near a forest of huge towers. A wind farm is different from the idyllic postcard we mentally have of wind mills in Holland and a wind farm is not a tourist attraction. A wind farm area is a ghetto area, land prices go down. In Danemark, the liberal government is about to pass a bill to give compensation for land loss value to people living near a new wind turbine.

The construction of a wind farm also implies a lot of cement ; a sea of cement would give a better picture. Thousands of very long, broad and heavy trucks will damage all the network of roads. Who will pay the bill ? In 30 years, if the promoters have not declared bankruptcy to avoid paying for dismantling the towers, the cement foundations will be left to the grandchildren of the original owners. Promoters should put money in trust to cover end-of-life dismantling ; a form of asset fund for future generations.

By nature, wind is erratic. An expert who spent his whole life working in generating stations says that “wind power can never become part of any large power grid, it is nothing more than an unreliable add on which is a serious nuisance to grid operators.” A wind farm produces little electricity and adds almost nothing to our generating capacity but yes, it is green and more importantly, it has the favour of politicians around the world.

Promoters say that their wind farm brings an economic windfall, but 75% of the expenses are for the turbines built by multinationals. The truth is that local entrepreneurs will provide the sand, the gravel and the donuts. The company pays royalties to the farmers for their land but prices vary a lot depending on how gullible people are and contracts are secrets of the trade. Farmers often realize later on that all the drainage system is modified and that their lands are permanently damaged for crops. An industrial wind farm creates few jobs locally because the turbines can be monitored by a technician working far away in an office filled with computers.

During public hearings, two promoters were recently scolded by the commissioners for having failed to mention and supply critical information, for not having notified residents affected, for having frequently changed site plans without consulting the township and for failing to comply with several regulations, showing in fact no regard for the environment or for the residents. This is the reality Wolfe Island near Kingston Ontario is actually living and there are hundreds of other cases around the world.

Urban environmentalists, unaware of the real issues, are often saying that any opposition to wind farm project is wrong. If greedy promoters and big shareholders had their way, public enquiries would never be necessary. It is not a question of NIMBY (not in my backyard) attitude. One company in Ontario has a wind farm project right in front of a wildlife protected area. Some far-west entrepreneurs would like to construct wind farms right in your frontyard. The landscape, the local environment and public opinion are being ignored, this is totally unacceptable for society as well as detrimental to the wind industry in general.

These huge towers will still be on our landscape when today’s decision makers are dead. In June of last year, during public hearings by an environmental commission, we proposed that wind farms should be moved away from cultivated lands, away from rivers, from migratory corridors, scenic landscape and heavily populated areas. The best place for wind turbines is the seashore like in Holland. Substantial indemnities should go to repair the road system and standards should be set for the contracts with the farmers. Local residents should be paid on a system based on proximity to the turbine rather than on a system based on straight rent because landscape is a form of common space which belongs to everyone. Municipalities have to become partners with the wind industry. Power utilities should have standard offer contracts that permits local participation. Large wind farm projects, especially those over 100 turbines, should be moved in Canada’s northlands or on the shores of large hydroelectrical reservoirs.

Some will say that the wind farms are replacing coal fired generating plants or nuclear generators. This is not the case. We have better alternatives. Geothermal energy is the greenest and most economical alternative to meet our heating requirements while solar energy is the best one for our energy requirements. Wind energy projects have several downside effects. Why is it that the protection of multinationals and the wind industry’s interests override the protection of wildlife, the environment, local public opinion as well as pure common sense ? The answer is that money talks.

The people building wind farms are not environmentalists but astute promoters who want to profit from green subsidies using tax shelters. These companies feel that they should be able to do as they like without regard for the stakeholders. Milton Friedman would be proud of them for he once wrote that an officer of a company who cares about anything else but maximizing shareholders dividends is to be considered as a subversive element. How could he receive a Nobel prize in Economy ?

Because of greedy promoters, large industrial wind farms are rapidly becoming anti-environmental because they are symbols, not of our respect for the environment but of industrial domination over our resources. The situation is the same in every modern country of the world. Only China has no opposition to the wind industry, but is opposition really possible in China ? The best options for our heating and energy requirements are clearly solar and geothermal energies. Governments should transfer tax credits from wind to geothermal and solar energy. They should also start seriously to promote the use of these green energy in all public buildings and give strong fiscal incentives to companies working in the energy efficiency field. Wind farms are unreliable and are not the best solution to the world energy problems.

If you ever wake up in the middle of a 100 turbine wind farm project, you will not be fighting alone.

Bernard Viau
viaub@sympatico.ca

August 4, 2007

cmaq.net


wind turbines and Property Value – Real Life Experience

North Country Advocates wind turbines and property value – real life experience

`My spouse and I have a home to sell in the village of Malone. One prospective buyer, pre-approved for a loan, had a list of items that were “deal breakers” for the bank. Among those terms and conditions of the property site were: 1.) It not be located on a landfill, 2.) It not be constructed near an oil spill or any identified DEC site and … 3.) It not be near “windmills” as the term was said. So much for no loss of property value. Here we have a local bank who will not approve a loan if the property is near “windmills”.

Have you seen the ones that are constructed just beyond Chateaugay?
Horrifying!!

Beth Mosher

North_Country_Advocates

Please visit site. They have all but banned wind farms. They also explain in detail the cost of wind energy. Very good piece.

ACW Council waits for wind word from ministry-Update

From the editor:

We need more men and women with the backbone and conviction of Councilor
Barry Millian

 

I got involved with the wind farm issue in Oct. 2006. The Kingsbridge l wind farm started operation in the spring of that year in the Twp. of Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh. I had no intention of getting involved. I did like a lot of others, I drove by the wind farm in Oct. and my first reaction was that it didn’t directly affect me so don’t worry about it. What made me stop at several farms to see how the people were dealing with the wind farm, I’m not entirely sure. What I found was good honest people, that have been lied to and have had both their lives and property values ruined.

Epcor who built the Kingsbridge l wanted to build Kingsbridge ll even though there were many problems with No. l. The council wanted to give the go ahead with no regard for the people who were already experiencing problems.

I and several others trying to find the truth about wind farms were told by frustrated residents from ACW to contact Councilor Barry Millian. We were told that he was the only one who seemed interested in making sure the residents were protected from adverse effects that might be caused by putting the turbines too close to homes.

We sent Mr. Millian volumes of information on the subject of which he studied. The G.P. van den Berg: “Effects of the wind profile at night is one paper he paid close attention too and it showed why the people living near the wind farm were having problems sleeping at night.

Councilor Millian who under intense pressure to allow Kingsbridge ll to proceed, stood his ground and convinced the council to wait until they got an answer from the ministry with regards to the G.P. van den Berg Report.

They were promised an answer by the end of Feb. 2007. They still do not have an answer to date. It is now promised sometime in Oct., after the Provincial election.

If the govt. acknowledges the G.P. van den Berg Report they will not be able to put the turbines as close to homes as they are.

It appears the govt. is sitting on the report trying to put through as many wind farms as they can before they get caught.

The OMB hearings are a farce when the govt. is withholding information that would force the turbines to be much further from homes.

Was the Enbridge 110 turbine wind farm near Kincardine passed because information was withheld by the govt.?

I asked Marie LeGrow, senior project coordinator for the MOE, how they could go ahead with the OMB hearing for the Enbridge wind farm when they hadn’t completed the study on the G.P. van den Berg Report. I was told that because the Enbridge wind farm was already in process, the report regardless of the outcome, would not affect the Enbridge project

Below is the story from The Goderich Signal-Star

Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh Twp. council will not pass its new comprehensive zoning bylaw until the Ministry of Environment responds to the township’s concerns about wind turbines.

At the Aug. 21 meeting, council was to set a date to review comments and changes to the comprehensive zoning bylaw with the planning department. However, Counc. Barry Millian said council should not rush passing the bylaw until the township gets answers back from the ministry following their meeting on July 30 at the Huron County council chambers.

“The minister said she will get back to us in October and we’ve waited this long, why not wait another month?” asked Millian.

Township resident Harry Kerr said the wind turbines neighbouring his property are more than 800 metres away but “damn noisy”.

“The 400 metre setback is not enough,” said Kerr.

Millian urged all council members to study the reports on the wind turbines.

“Nobody is going to disagree with the Ontario government saying that there is a need for renewable energy but we don’t know anything about it and the government just wants us to do it,” said Millian. “We can’t talk to anyone in Ontario about this because it’s new and no one knows anything about it and I challenge anyone in this room to argue with me about this.”

Council agreed to wait for the minister’s response.

By Sara Bender

The Goderich Signal-Star

5 September 2007

We need more men and women with the backbone and conviction of Councilor
Barry Millian

You’re a good man

The Dangers of Wind Power

From the Editor:

Ontario and most jurisdictions in North America seem unwilling to learn from the mistakes of others. It is very easy to build clean cost effective electrical systems but our governments keep on chasing the wind dream. The dream will turn out to be a nightmare for the system operators, the farmers who lease their land, the people living near the wind turbines and last but not least the ratepayers who will get hammered with ever rising hydro bills.

The fields will end up as junk yards of rusting broken down turbines . The investors will come out on the good end because the wind industry is a tax scheme not an electrical system.

The report below should help you understand the reality of the wind industry. 

 

[ News Watch Home ]

Wind turbines continue to multiply the world over. But as they grow bigger and bigger, the number of dangerous accidents is climbing. How safe is wind energy?

It came without warning. A sudden gust of wind ripped the tip off of the rotor blade with a loud bang. The heavy, 10-meter (32 foot) fragment spun through the air, and crashed into a field some 200 meters away.

The wind turbine, which is 100 meters (328 feet) tall, broke apart in early November 2006 in the region of Oldenburg in northern Germany — and the consequences of the event are only now becoming apparent. Startled by the accident, the local building authority ordered the examination of six other wind turbines of the same model.

The results, which finally came in this summer, alarmed District Administrator Frank Eger. He immediately alerted the state government of Lower Saxony, writing that he had shut down four turbines due to safety concerns. It was already the second incident in his district, he wrote, adding that turbines of this type could pose a threat across the country. The expert evaluation had discovered possible manufacturing defects and irregularities.

Mishaps, Breakdowns and Accidents

Read the full report 

Bruce County to Get up to 3000 Turbines

From the Editor

Anything less than a complete moratorium on wind farms in Ontario is unacceptable. The corporations will smile at you while they take over rural Ontario. Heading full speed ahead back to “Feudal Times” where you are reduced to a Serf on the land you once owned and controlled.

Tell your Liberal MPP what you think.Serfdom is the socio-economic status of peasants under feudalism, and specifically relates to Manorialism. It was a condition of bondage or modified slavery seen primarily during the Middle Ages in Europe. Serfdom was the enforced labour of serfs on the fields of landowners, in return for protection and the right to work on their leased fields.

Serfdom involved work not only on fields, but various agriculture-related works, like forestry, transportation (both land and river-based), crafts and even in production. Manors formed the basic unit of society during this period, and both the lord and his serfs were bound legally, economically and socially. Serfs were labourers who were bound to the land; they formed the lowest social class of the feudal society. Serfs were also defined as people in whose labour landowners held property rights.

The Bruce County Federation of Agriculture is calling for measures to protect the county’s tourism industry, farming operations and municipalities from the rapidly developing wind energy industry.

“Recent studies in other countries have shown that large wind generating areas and tourism are not compatible. It would be a shame to lose the gains we have made in tourism by not having planning in place to make sure our tourism industry stays vibrant,” federation president Robert Emerson told Bruce County council’s agriculture, tourism and planning committee on Thursday.

The committee was looking at wind energy policy as part of the county’s five-year review of its official plan and because of concerns raised by residents and the industry over the lack of adequate regulations.

Committee members later approved 15 recommendation that chair Charlie Bagnato described as a beginning of more policies to regulate wind energy development.

The recommendations include one calling on developers to provide clearer information about shadow flicker and noise and a provision for a complaint protocol, so members of the public can make their concerns known to the developer and the county.

There was no proposal to change setbacks from built-up areas, which municipalities can set at anywhere from 400 to 700 metres. However, there were recommendations that the planning department conduct further research on the density of turbine development, cumulative impact of wind turbines in an area and the effect of cold weather on wind turbine operation.

Bagnato said more policies will be included once that information is received.

“The overall updates they made today will be helpful in the short term . . . but we’re suggesting now is the time to take a long-term view of the whole issue as it affects county tourism, county agriculture and we’re identifying some real important agricultural issues,” said Emerson.

Emerson held up the example of Grey Highlands, which has designated certain areas suitable for wind energy development and prohibits it in visually sensitive areas. It has incorporated those regulations into its official plan.

“This is fair to all concerned because then wind prospectors will know where they can develop their wind parks and farmers will know if their land is eligible for development,” Emerson said.

Saugeen Shores Mayor Mike Smith agreed with Emerson’s suggestion of looking into protecting natural and tourist attractions from wind energy development.

Chris LaForest, head of planning for Bruce County, noted the proposals by Grey Highlands still need approval by Grey County.

Emerson cautioned against rushing into new regulations to satisfy the demands of the wind energy industry. He noted the transmission capacity for new wind energy won’t be available until 2011 and the recent announcement of up to 3,000 megawatts of wind energy coming from Bruce County within the next 10 years would require between 1,500 and 3,000 wind turbines.

“Once these units are up and running . . . the citizens of Bruce County will be left to look at a wind park of industrial proportions for the rest of their lives,” Emerson warned.

Emerson also is concerned that wind turbines are not being fairly assessed. He worries that will result in municipalities collecting less in taxes.

Wind turbines are assessed by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation at $40,000 for each megawatt of electricity they are rated to produce. The standard 1.5 megawatt turbine worth $2.5 million dollars is assessed at $60,000. A farming operation of the same value is assessed at $500,000.

“To me these large wind turbines have been given a sweet heart deal by the province . . . there’s no fair comparison at all to agriculture. We see it having a detrimental affect on the whole county assessment,” Emerson said.

LaForest said he sees the updates to the county official plan passed by councillors on Thursday as a first step to setting policy for wind energy. Final approval will takes place at a meeting of County council on Aug. 2.

By Don Crosby

The Sun Times

28 July 2007

Tell your Liberal MPP what you think.

Pugwash wind project damaging says Elizabeth May Leader of the Green Party

From the Editor

I thank Elizabeth May for getting involved. Yes 500 meters is too close to homes. Here in Bruce County Ontario the setback is a mere 450 meters. The people here asked for a 1km setback at an OMB hearing, but in the end, after a 7 week hearing the OMB agreed with both the MOE and Enbridge that 450 meters is a safe distance. It is not.

Elizabeth May is all for wind power but not when it’s forced upon those residents living near giant windfarms such as the one proposed for the Gulf Shore.

The leader of Canada’s Green Party feels wind energy has great potential but is concerned when a company like Atlantic Wind Power chooses the wrong site because it runs the risk of discrediting renewable energy.

“We don’t want anything that stands in the way of the effective uptake of wind energy, but when you choose the wrong place and are not sensitive to local concerns it’s a real mistake,” May said. “Shorelines, where people have a lot of cottages, are not a good place. I haven’t gone and measured it myself, but the Pugwash beach is very much up against the 500-metre limit and that’s an unreasonably close spot.”

While the Green Party supports wind energy as a renewable energy source, May said the party also stands for grassroots decision-making.

Atlantic Wind Power Corporation plans to erect between 20 and 27 110-metre high wind turbines on the Gulf Shore near Pugwash. Project opponents want a two-kilometre separation between their properties and the proposed project, but the Municipality of Cumberland recently passed a bylaw setting the distance at the greater of 500 metres or three times the height of the turbine.

May believes the health concerns being raised by Gulf Shore residents are more than fear-mongering.

“Anyone who objects to wind farms because they’re ugly I’m not really impressed with, but as a health issue if you’re going to be that close it’s going to affect the quality of your life,” she said.

By Darrell Cole

Amherst Daily News

25 July 2007