As published in The Shoreline Beacon, The Hanover Post & The Kincardine News.
Wind turbine moratorium defeated
By Jennifer Schleich
Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson’s hopes for a moratorium on all industrial wind turbines were dashed after the Liberal and NDP parties teamed up to defeat her private member’s bill, which she tabled during the Ontario Legislature on Thursday afternoon.
The motion appealed to MPPs to vote for a halt to wind turbine development in Ontario until further locally based third party studies have been conducted to examine the concerns brought forward by residents.
“Citizens living in … Huron, Bruce … Grey … just to name a few, have filed hundreds of complaints with the Ministry of the Environment,” said Thompson during her speech. “The tension in our communities has reached crisis proportions. Every fabric of our community is being impacted by these terribly expensive projects and ideals.”
Thompson spoke on the need to focus on community-based development of renewable energy projects, in order to decrease animosity between neighbours.
“Projects are currently developed in a top-down approach instead of a bottom up approach, which would facilitate community buy-in,” she said.
She also referenced the soaring cost of electricity in the province as a serious concern and spoke to changing renewable energy policies in Europe, specifically Britain and Spain.
“I had a constituent call my office this year concerned they wouldn’t be able to pay their energy bill,” said Thompson.
Thompson said the responses of the Liberal government to the ongoing situation are “shameful” and called out the party for only having 12 members in attendance at Queen’s Park on Thursday.
“When I look throughout the chamber today it’s really disturbing to me that so many party members are not in their seats,” she said.
Before Thursday’s meeting of the legislature Thompson admitted she was not expecting a heartwarming reception from her opponents, but was hoping to impart on residents of rural Ontario that the Conservatives are not being discouraged.
“When I talk to individuals one-on-one they appreciate that people are having a tough time, but collectively as parties they continue to turn a deaf ear,” she said. “We are not being discouraged, we know it’s important to people.”
Although Thompson was not expecting a supportive reception from the Liberal party she was still saddened, she wrote in her press release.
“I am very disappointed that the Liberals and NDP voted against this motion,” said Thompson. “They are clearly not on the side of rural Ontario… It’s simply not fair.”
Thompson applauded her entire caucus for showing support for her bill and asked why the Liberal party did not allow any of its members in rural ridings to respond to her motion.
“To the MPPs who spoke from Richmond Hill, Toronto-Danforth, Mississauga Streetsville, I have to ask how many wind turbines they have in their riding,” she said. “Why were your members in rural ridings not allowed to speak today? I know the MPP for Guelph has constituents here in the gallery.”
The Liberal MPP from Richmond Hill, Reza Moridi, stated the party stands behind its 2009 policy decision to introduce green energy to Ontario and shut down coal plants. He countered Thompson’s claims of health concerns related to wind turbines with data on the pollution produce by coal-fired power plants.
New Democratic Party MPP Peter Tabuns also argued against the bill, stating, “now is not the time to slow down green energy or wind turbine development.”
However, he criticized Liberal policies on Green Energy, calling for the government to reduce tariffs to affordable levels, change c ommu n i t y cons u l t at i o n procedures and change the focus of development to community-owned projects.
Just recently at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association [ROMA] meeting Premier Dalton McGuinty and Energy Minister Chris Bentley made comments suggesting the Liberal government may move to restore some level of local planning authority to municipalities, which had been stripped with the introduction of the Green Energy Act.
“I’d like to think it was in response to the folks who walked out of ROMA showing their displeasure,” said Thompson. “Minister Bentley and Premier McGuinty did hint that during the media scrum.”
Thompson said the Liberals should support her motion for more health studies, considering the party’s investment of $1.5 million over five years through a health study on renewable energy with the University of Waterloo.
Thompson’s bill is certainly not the first motion to come before the Ontario Legislature requesting a moratorium on wind turbines, but she thinks its different from its predecessors.
“I believe my motion is different in the sense that I’m recognizing four areas of concern about environmental health, social heath, physical health and economic health,” she said. “All four of these elements impact how we need to address the issue.”