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Who we are and what we are doing

Our group includes government policy analysts, biologists, teachers, lawyers, nurses, trades people, doctors, artisans, farmers, financial advisors and retirees. Some of us have no vista of the turbines; some of us have had an opportunity to lease our land to the developer and said “no”, some of us are surrounded by turbines and some of us see and experience the turbines from a distance.Misson Statement

Wolfe Island Residents for the Environment (WIRE) want to ensure that the 86 wind turbine project for Wolfe Island proposed by Canadian Hydro Development Incorporated complies with all environmental laws. The interests of all of the members of the community needs to be respected and protected.

Goals

- to protect the beautiful Island communities of Simcoe and Wolfe Islands;
– to ensure that all environmental assessments of the cumulative effects of the Wolfe Island wind turbine project are conducted and published;
– to continue to publish relevant information regarding governmental and non-governmental actions, regulations and policy changes;
– to inform the public regarding opportunites for involvement
– to lobby all levels of government regarding issues, concerns and impacts of the proposed turbines on Wolfe Island residents and their environment.

History

The Wolfe Island wind turbine project began with 24 turbines and grew to 86. It is now the largest turbine project in Canada. Each wind turbine proposed for Wolfe Island has blades that are 45 metres (148′) in length making the effect diameter of the blade rotation 90 metres (300′). The height of the wind plant mast is 80 metres (262′). The total height of the mast and the blade will be (80 + 45 metres) 125 metres (415′). As a comparison, they are four to six times the height of a typical farm silo. The rotor disc alone spans one acre.

During the development of the wind turbine project, open houses were held but it was not until March 2007 that simulated pictures of the project were released at a public meeting. Many people in the community were shocked and disturbed by the large clusters of wind turbines, particularily those in the sand bay wetland areas.

Council said that they would not pass By-law 27-2006 until they reviewed an Environmental Review Report as supplied by the developer. However, Council in fact passed this By-law without knowledge of and prior to the release of the Environmental Review Report. This premature By-law provided for a minimum setback of 350 metres from turbines which is not considered safe by many international scientific studies around noise, shadow-flicker and sonic vibrations. (reference: Dr. Nina Pierpont, July 5, 2006, ‘Review of the DEIS for Ellenburg, N.Y.’)

The procedure around the proposed 86-turbine project has been misleading and confusing.Council has failed to give regard to important community issues prior to passing the required planning provisions for the turbines. The recent Ontario Municipal Board hearing regarding By-law 27-2006 provided additional protocols and setback allowances for residential and public areas.

Ontario Municipal Board

In July 2007, there was an Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing related to the placement of wind turbines. The outcome of the hearing was:OMB SETTLEMENT

- increased setbacks for residential areas in the village, schools and public buildings of 600 metres; 120 metres for provincially significant wetlands and 400 metres for non-participating residents (a turbine that is not on their land but their land is near a participant);
– an agreement that important environment issues would be dealt with through the pending Federal and Provincil assessments;
– a right to receive comments on the environmental studies and a mechanism for dealing with complaints or concerns during or after construction of the project

WIRE has requested the Province to intervene on our behalf to include Protection Laws for its citizens
We are asking the Province to provide Legislation to guide Municipalities around safe set-backs and not leave these and many other policy decisions in the hands of inexperienced municipalities.

WIRE has met with and will continue to meet with M.P.P. John Gerretsen and M.P. Peter Milliken and are in communication with environmental groups and international bird specialists. A sensible and fair process needs to begin now. WIRE’s major concerns are:

- health issues, environmental issues and liability issues need to be openly discussed and debated so the public is informed and all levels of government can make sound decisions;
– the draft Environmental Review Report, (produced by a firm hired by the turbine developer) is incomplete and is lacking in-depth studies and information related to people and wildlife impacts. WIRE wants to ensure that all environmental studies are independently and scientifically conducted by an expert panel review and that a full federal Environmental Assessment is completed. (The Environment Assesssment should not be developer-driven);
– we want to ensure that the developer communicates their intent around turbine development clearly and to all residents of Wolfe Island, including seasonal residential property owners. (Council and the developer did not inform 800 residents that the turbine project was taking place and failed to invite them to important planning meetings);
– the siting of this project has been questioned by Environment Canada for the past three years due to lack of significant studies by the developer around migratory bird paths. The Ontario Municipal Board settlement by the developer, the Township and the appellants agree that cumulative impact studies are required for the environmental review process. To date this has NOT been done;
– Calgary-based Canadian Hydro Development Incorporated and council are not giving credible answers to important questions and many of their logistical ‘plans’ are in question – to date, a final Environmental Review Report has not been released neither has a new turbine site plan.

Calendar

May 2015
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