On December 6, 2011, the South Branch Wind Opposition Group (SBWOG) presented South Dundas with their case against Prowind’s planned South Branch Wind Farm near Brinston.
After taking some time to consider the requests, council came back to the January 17th meeting with a decision not to support SBWOG.
In fact, South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds summarized council’s stance, saying, “overall we are in support of the project.”
Councillor Archie Mellan declared a conflict of interest, taking himself out of the equation. The remaining council members were unanimous in their support for Prowind’s wind farm project.
In terms of why council landed where they did in terms of which side to support, it seems to come down to a matter of choosing the winning team.
Deputy-mayor Jim Locke reminded everyone that “it’s a known fact that the municipality really has no say in the matter.”
Councillor Jim Graham concurred, saying, “I think the government has set up a policy where they’re going to limit the interference of municipalities on these projects.”
“We don’t have staff and resources to fight provincial policy on this,” he added.
He suggested that it would be “foolish” for council to support SBWOG “because I don’t think we’ll get far on this.”
Councillor Evonne Delegarde agreed, “the province has taken a firm stand on this.”
However, she also said, “I don’t have a problem sending their concerns on to the Member of Provincial Parliament.”
In addition to council’s feelings that to support SBWOG would be pointless, Byvelds also pointed out that the project “started in 2008 and then in 2011 a group that decides it’s not right came along making demands that we don’t have authority on.”
Interestingly enough, Byvelds informed council of a deputy-mayor in a western Ontario municipality who had recently contacted him with a cautionary note concerning the wind farm project: she reported that those in her municipality were having some problems until the lines from the turbines to the substations were buried. Apparently, above ground, these lines emitted unfiltered electricity.
Byvelds also noted, however, that there “is not a lot to validate her concerns.”
“From a project overall, I think it’s at a point now where I’m certainly not going to stand in the way of it,” he said.
Locke interjected, saying he had heard of similar issues concerning “overhead wires and unfiltered power. There were houses that needed to be vacated.”
“I would definitely support an urge to bury,” said Locke.
With that said, South Dundas council decided against supporting SBWOG and their requests.
This may not, however, be the end of the discussion. On January 20th, Mark Wales, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), issued two releases changing OFA’s stance on wind farms in Ontario: Wind power versus rural power; and, OFA calls on government to suspend wind turbine development in Ontario.
“The OFA is calling on the provincial government to suspend the invasion of rural Ontario with industrial wind turbines.”