The list of municipalities declaring themselves “unwilling hosts” to projects such as industrial wind turbine farms continues to grow.
The question now is: What is new Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne going to do about it?
As reported by the Listowel Banner, the Municipality of North Perth and many of its residents have practically shouted from the rooftops their stance as unwilling hosts.
Many communities have, and continue to, do the same.
At its May 13 meeting, South Huron council officially declared itself an unwilling host, while at the same time requesting that the province give municipalities more say regarding planning and site plan control for future wind and solar projects.
Lambton Shores also declared itself an unwilling host at a recent council meeting.
An audience of about 25 applauded South Huron council’s decision last week, although it’s unclear what impact — if any — motions like these from municipal councils will have. You can bet that wind turbine projects already in the works are going to go ahead. Canceling them — as South Huron Coun. Wayne DeLuca recently pointed out — would result in massive lawsuits from the wind turbine companies.
Here in North Perth and Perth East, final approval has yet to be granted. Other communities aren’t in the same boat.
NextEra’s Bluewater project recently received Renewable Energy Approval from the Ministry of the Environment, and more approvals are no doubt coming. But what the unwilling host movement might be able to do is prevent projects not yet in the works from going into unwilling communities (which also begs the question: Does anyone want wind turbines?).
What has clearly upset many municipal councillors and planners was the province’s decision — through the Green Energy Act — to remove authoritative municipal powers such as planning from wind turbine and solar projects. Perhaps these unwilling host motions will carry some weight with Wynne, or maybe they will encourage her to restore planning powers to the municipalities.
Or she could ignore the municipalities, as former Premier Dalton McGuinty did, much to his own peril in the last provincial election, which reduced his government to a minority and saw many rural ridings turn Tory blue.
In dealing with the growing opposition to wind turbines, Wynne will have to decide how much she wants to separate herself from the McGuinty regime. Will she represent a new era in the Ontario Liberal party, or will she carry on with business as usual?
As more and more municipalities voice their opposition to wind turbine projects, Wynne is going to have to do something if she wants to stay in office.
- Special to the Listowel Banner