BY ANDREW SMITH
NORTH PERTH – North Perth council has supported a recommendation from Coun. Warren Howard to step back from the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group.
Howard presented the recommendation at the Aug. 25 meeting, following discussions with the MMWTWG over the development of terms of reference for the organization. According to Howard, the MMWTWG was originally established as a group of municipal representatives sharing information and best practices against industrial wind turbine projects, but the goal of the committee has shifted since then.
“It never had a role of advocating anything, it was just sharing information,” Howard said. “Some of the municipalities want to go beyond that and start advocating.”
The problem in Howard’s opinion is that the committee includes citizen representatives as well elected municipal officials, and that advocating on specific issues without the approval of council is in conflict with the Ontario Municipal Act.
“Only the mayor has the authority to speak on behalf of council,” Howard said. “The decision of the group was that they still want to proceed, so they’re over-stepping what their powers are within the Municipal Act.”
Howard has been involved with the MMWTWG since North Perth joined in February 2013, and said it’s been worth being a member since then.
“It has been a very valuable tool, there have been all sorts of things I’ve brought to council that have come from that organization,” he said. “If they want to over-step what North Perth will allow me to do, then we have to pull back.”
Howard added that the wind turbine issue itself has evolved, and that with many projects moving away from the Bruce, Huron and Grey counties, the information may not be as valuable as it was originally.
“I think less than half of the members actually have turbines,” he said. “When it was formed, they were concerned about turbines moving in so they were motivated, but now I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Howard noted that he would remain involved with a number of initiatives and advocacy groups against wind turbines across the province, such as his participation with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
See TURBINE, page 2
As far as how the Invenergy Canada project proposed for North Perth and Perth East is progressing, Howard said the official project status hasn’t changed since it was re-submitted last fall and sources within the Ministry of the Environment indicate the project is being reviewed for completeness.
“The Ministry of the Environment position is that a lot of work needs done before it goes forward,” he said. “The whole thing doesn’t seem too active, but these things can change rapidly.”
Howard also raised questions regarding Invenergy’s Feed-In Tariff contract, which is due to expire this year, and recalled comments made by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne six months ago about cancelling contracts if a proponent is unable to meet the requirements under their contract.
“I think it’s time to call on the government to cancel the contract,” Howard said. “I think that’s our key focus right now, to start pushing that.”