North Gower Not Willing Host petition sends Ottawa Council strong message
Here from today’s Ottawa Citizen, the report on yesterday’s Ottawa City Council decision to acknowledge a petition by residents of the North Gower area, within the amalgamated city, to be Not A Willing Host to a proposed wind power project that would expose more than 1,000 homes to environmental noise and vibration.
“The petition sends a strong message that politicians say is worth listening to,” says the Citizen.
City wants a say in where windmills will be located
Communities need to be consulted about windmill projects near them, city council says.
Photograph by: Tyler Brownbridge , Windsor Star
OTTAWA — City council is urging the Ontario government to give municipalities more say in choosing locations for proposed windmill projects in their communities.
Coun. Scott Moffat drafted the motion that council supported on Wednesday asking for legislative changes that would guarantee local residents have more influence about projects pegged for their neighbourhoods.
The province has already promised to add stringent public consultation requirements to its Feed-in Tariff program, which encourages the development of renewable energy with government funding. Anyone looking to build a project would have to have “significant municipal engagement,” when responding to request for proposals (RFPs), said provincial Energy Minster Bob Chiarelli, just a couple hours before the council meeting.
“The bottom line is it will be very difficult for an energy proponent to be successful in the type of RFP that’s being created without a significant municipal engagement,” he said.
His government has faced public opposition from around Ontario for such projects.
More than 70 communities have joined a coalition of “unwilling hosts” for wind projects, declaring they do not want such developments. The Ottawa motion does not put the city in this same group, but instead asks the government to ensure residents have a say in choosing the location for such projects.
Moffat introduced his motion at council a day after receiving a petition from residents of North Gower, a community in his Rideau-Goulbourn ward, who oppose the large-scale wind-power project.
With more than 1,200 signatures, the petition is a strong message that politicians say is worth listening to.
“What you need is the ability for communities to be engaged in the process, and right now that’s not really happening,” Moffat said. “Mr. Chiarelli seemed to indicate that there would be a process going forward that would allow for community engagement and put it upon the wind developer to have community buy-in.”
Chiarelli said the substance of Moffat’s resolution reflects what the province has been doing over the past few months. Earlier this year the Ontario government removed larger projects from the Feed-in Tariff program and added the RFP process, but details about exactly is required for public consultation have yet to be identified.
Coun. David Chernushenko, a strong wind-energy proponent, supported Moffat’s motion.
“This offers the opportunity now for people to make a real decision about what’s going to affect them,” he told his council colleagues. “As much as I am troubled by the anti-wind hyperbole, I’ve always felt that people need to have a say and legislation that prevents them from having that say is not healthy in any way.”
Chiarelli also confirmed communities will not be able to outright reject projects.
“There is no veto. We’ve said that very, very clearly,” he said. “There is no veto because there are circumstances in the energy planning of Ontario where a veto might be totally unadvisable, but the general thrust is that there must be an engagement with the local municipality.”