Day 32 of Ostrander Point — Testimony of Ed Kenney, Wolfe Island

Report on May 22nd ERT Hearing on Human Health Appeal

by Paula Peel, APPEC 

APPEC witness Stephana Johnston completed her testimony of the day before.   The Environmental Review Tribunal heard the full testimony of APPEC witness Ed Kenney.

Examination of Stephana Johnston (cont’d)

Ms. Johnston’s efforts to take care of her health have had some results.  One doctor indicated that her problems since the turbines started up could be related to environmental exposure, and he recommended further study.   In January this year a doctor with expertise in sleep apnea concluded that her sleep disturbance could not be attributed to apnea.  After eliminating other possible causes the doctor noted similarities between Ms. Johnston’s symptoms and stories he has heard of disturbed sleep in others living in areas with wind turbines, and he suggested she leave the house permanently.

Cross-examination of Stephana Johnston

Mr. Bryn Gray, lawyer for Gilead Power, asked about Ms. Johnston’s home in relation to the wind project.  Ms. Johnston said her home is surrounded: Eight wind turbines are within 2 km; 18 within a 3-km radius of her home.  In all, 25 turbines can be seen from her property if those from the Erie Shores Wind Farm 4 km away are included.

Mr. Gray wanted to know why the first medical record specifically relating to wind farms was in June 2009 if Ms. Johnston’s problems began in December 2008.   Ms. Johnston agreed that she did not inform her doctor about pressure in her head, ear problems and sleep problems during a January appointment.  However, she did so in March 2009.  The omission in the records does not mean it was not reported.

Sylvia Davis, lawyer for the Ministry of the Environment (MOE), asked about the MOE’s 2010 acoustic-monitoring study. She noted that it was inconclusive and that the MOE was to return for more measurements.  As far as Ms. Johnston knows, no one from MOE ever came back.

Re-examination of Stephana Johnston

Mr. Wright, one of the panel co-chairs, asked Ms. Johnston what she meant by vibrations.  Ms. Johnston said it is her understanding that some vibrations or sound patterns produced by wind turbines are audible and some are not.  MOE’s monitoring equipment measures sound in the human audible range and is designed to filter out vibrations on the lower and top ends of the scale.

Ms. Johnston was never asked by Gilead Power or the MOE if she would consent to be examined medically in preparation for the hearing.

Examination of Ed Kenney

Mr. Kenney identified receptor 547 as his home on Wolfe Island. Since June 2009, when the turbines started up, he has suffered from ringing in the ears and disturbed sleep.   Mr. Kenney noted the significant changes to what was once a tight-knit community.  The wind project has created friction among friends, neighbours, and families.   The property across the road from his house hosts three turbines.  Mr. Kenney’s sister owns this property.

On numerous occasions after the project started up, the Kenneys contacted the MOE about noise.  They were told of the protocol to report problems to the company.   As far as Mr. Kenney knows, the MOE never investigated any of their complaints.

In early 2012 the MOE district office in Kingston told the Kenneys that the company planned to conduct sound tests on the closest turbines.  The MOE wanted permission to erect equipment on the Kenney’s property in order to monitor the company’s results.  The Kenneys did not give their permission.  Mr. Kenney thought it doubtful that the MOE had the proper equipment to monitor noise.

In 2008, the same year turbines were erected, the Kenney’s property value assessment increased by 79%.   The Kenneys appealed the assessment in a very stressful hearing.  The Kenneys are unhappy with the decision and have filed a motion requesting another hearing.

Since the turbines came, Wolfe Island homes have been listed for sale for up to three or four years. Some homes have been taken off the market.  Others sell for less than anticipated for well-kept waterfront homes.  Mr. Kenney noted that their home was security for the future and there is stress in seeing lifesavings devalued and future plans no longer possible.

Mr. Kenney has a pre-existing medical condition of Type 2 diabetes, but it is under control.

Cross-examination of Ed Kenney

Bryn Gray asked about the proximity of wind turbines.  Mr. Kenney said that 3 turbines are within a km, 14 turbines within 2 km, and 27 turbines within 3 km.  Did Mr. Kenney not like the visual appearance?  Mr. Kenney replied that the turbines did nothing to enhance his property.

Mr. Gray noted the Kenney’s property assessment appeal cited such factors as industrial noise, industrial lighting, industrial traffic, health, viewshed, and degradation of the natural environment.  If the tribunal had a finding of harm to health, it would be helpful to Mr. Kenney’s request for an OMB review hearing.   Mr. Gray added that Mr. Kenney stands to gain financially.

Sylvia Davis referred Mr. Kenney to the MOE’s 2012 offer to set up monitoring equipment. Mr. Kenney clarified that the MOE did not offer equipment in response to their complaints.  To this day no one from the MOE has ever visited their property.  The Kenneys have never been told the results of the company’s noise monitoring.

Re-examination of Ed Kenney

Mr. Gillespie asked Mr. Kenney to explain his decisions, as raised during cross-examination, not to take sleep medication or to see a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker.  He said they could not tell him anything more than he already knew.  As for noise, how could they change one’s mind on anything like that?

Mr. Kenney was never asked by Gilead Power or the MOE if he would consent to be examined medically in preparation for the hearing.

Posted on May 25, 2013, in Advocacy / politics / legal, Human health, Ostrander Point, Wind turbines. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Alison Walker

    Thanks for the excellent reports on the Tribunal proceedings. I think that there is a typo in the report of Day 32. It says that in the first year of operation of the Wolfe Island turbine farm, the Kenneys experienced a 79% increase in property assessment. I’m sure that it meant a DECREASE, not an increase. We’re doing well. Keep up the good work. Alison Walker

  2. Actually Alison, the Kenney’s experienced a 79% increase in MPAC property tax assessment on their principle residence and almost 90% increase on their commericial cottage. That increase in property tax assessment occured in 2008, the same year that the turbines were constructed and put into operation. Since the erection of the wind plant, only one home has sold in the immediate area of the Kenney’s residence — it was a seasonal home owned by a landowner under lease with turbines on her land. She asked over $800 000 for the waterfront property — she accepted an offer $200 000 below asking price.

    The Kenney’s are former public servants, retired and in their 70s when MPAC almost doubled the tax assessments on their property. They appealed the MPAC assessment in front of the ARB. It has taken 5 years and cost the government and Township hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend. After the first decision, it was discovered that MPAC had refused to release over 78 property assessment devaluations that had occured in the immediate area of the Kenney’s property on Wolfe Island since the 2008 construction The Kenney’s had asked for the property assessments over the four year course of the appeal — but the Township and MPAC had refused to release this data and worked to conceal it at the tribunal. Weeks after their negative decision, and only following multiple access to information requests, the true scope of the problem was revealed. Adjustments in the order of $150 000 on property assessments adjacent to the Kenney’s were revealed. Many property owners were asked to simply name their price, provided they agreed not to cite wind turbines as a cause of their lower values. The Kenney’s were granted another appeal based on error that was established, and are awaiting the decision.

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