Council votes non-support for wpd’s White Pines project
[The following report was written by Henri Garand, Chair of APPEC, for its members. It has been edited slightly for wider distribution.]
This evening Municipal Council made a decision we’ve long been awaiting. A strong majority of councillors in attendance voted against a wind energy project. Specifically, the motion stated: “The White Pines project does not have the support of this Council.”
The decision came in a review of a Municipal Consultation Form (MCF), in which Council commented on the project. The MCF is part of the Renewal Energy Approvals process that includes both municipal and public consultation. Since municipalities have infrastructure and service responsibilities related to wind development, consultation is not treated as a perfunctory matter.
Besides such subjects as roads and decommissioning, Council had added to the MCF its concerns about noise emissions and the adequacy of setbacks in protecting the health of project residents.
Both APPEC and CSSAGE saw the MCF as an opportunity for Council to go further. Gord Gibbins, APPEC’s president, gave a deputation outlining the topics which could be included in the MCF, and asking Council to declare non-support for White Pines.
Orville Walsh, on behalf of CCSAGE, asked for a similar motion, saying the project was inappropriate for the area because of its probable negative impacts on human health and the natural environment.
The discussion following was extraordinarily brief. Councillor Alec Lunn proposed a motion, seconded by councillor Heather Campbell, to amend the MCF with a preamble indicating council’s lack of support. There was little debate, and the vote revealed a majority in favour of the amendment.
This important decision denies wpd Canada any real claim to community support. Indeed, if the company were seeking a power contract under the new Feed-in-Tariff regulations, its application would receive the lowest priority due to Council’s lack of support.
In taking a clear stand that implicitly acknowledges the recent South Marysburgh plebiscite (90% voted NO to wind turbines), Council has shown that the County is not wide open for wind development.
The Ministry of Environment must now consider this lack of official community support when it reviews the completeness of wpd’s White Pines application. Unfortunately, due to the Green Energy Act, council’s decision is not a deathblow to wpd’s project. But it is another obstacle towards a Renewable Energy Approval.