Grimsby council members ultimately turned down a motion to be an unwilling host for Industrial Wind Turbine Projects.
The motion was presented to council last month and was referred back to staff for follow-up information from the Region of Niagara regarding health, economical and environmental implications.
Recently Premier Kathleen Wynne has indicated that her government is working to develop a new energy plan that will make sure that new energy projects are sited in municipalities that are willing hosts. As an outcome of her statement, many municipalities in Ontario have already passed resolutions stating that they are not willing hosts. In Niagara, that includes the West Lincoln and Wainfleet. Niagara Region has indicated that it is not supporting a motion to be a non-willing host, but does support individual municipality’s rights to declare their own position. Town Manager Keith Vogl explained that this appears to be in support of the IWT manufacturing base in Niagara, which is a significant economic development sector. The region also passed a motion to reconfirm its support for development and investment in the green energy sector.
Neil Switer, Chair of the West Lincoln Glanbrook Wind Action Group, made a presentation to council regarding the health and financial impacts of IWT’s.
He urged council members to protect the best interests of residents by passing the ‘Not a Willing Host’ motion.
Grimsby is not a preferred area for IWT’s because the winds are more preferable to the south. Also, standards setbacks of 550 metres to an exisiting dwelling have been established for all IWT’s. There are only two pockets of land in Grimsby which have this setback.
To determine where Grimsby council stands on the issue, council passed a resolution last month requesting more information from the Niagara Region.
Town manager Keith Vogl explained to council that there hasn’t been much published information from the region specificaly addressing IWT’s, other than the region’s resolution to respect any individual municipality’s preference.
Since Grimsby is not likely a candidate for an IWT from a technical or financial perspective, passing a ‘not wiling host’ resolution would be more of a symbolic gesture, Vogl explained.
Councillors agree that municipalities should have the right to say whether or not they want IWT’s, they feel they still don’t have enough information to decide that they are not a willing host.
“I agree with almost everything on here other than the ‘not a willing host’ part,” said Ald. Nick DiFlavio. “We don’t have enough information to make that decision.”
He agrees that municipalities should have the right to decide whether they are willing hosts or not, but will not support one way or the other without more information.
Ald. Dave Kadwell feels Grimsby council should support its neighbours who are currently dealing with the installation of IWT projects.
“We need to take a stand, and support our neighbours,” he said. “To me taking a stand means supporting this. West Lincoln supported us a number of years ago with the YMCA Niagara.”
Ald. Joanne Johnson feels strongly that the decision making power should be in the hands of each municipality.
“We live in a country of democracy… we should have a say,” she said.
Ald. Dave Wilson and Steve Berry also feel they needed more information.
Mayor Bob Bentley suggested that if in the future they want to become ‘Not a Willing Host’ they can bring forward another motion, but for now the resolution was defeated in a recorded vote, turned down by every council member except Kadwell.