Nova Scotia welcomes wind farms; Ontario? Not so much
A study done by a PhD student at Western University shows that Nova Scotia, which allows communities more say in wind power project siting, is more welcoming of the power projects, but in Ontario where the Green Energy Act totally stripped communities of local land-use planning, the situation is split communities and lengthy legal battles.
Wind farms more accepted in Nova Scotia
Ontario Farmer, February 28, 2017
By John Miner
Known for splitting rural Ontario communities and fuelling lengthy legal battles, wind farms are being far more welcomed in Nova Scotia, a Western University study has found.
The study by researchers in Western’s geography department concluded that support for wind farms was three times higher in Nova Scotia, with the difference in community acceptance having a lot to do with different approaches taken in the two provinces.
In Nova Scotia, communities were given more say over whether projects were allowed to go ahead and nearby residents had more opportunity to share in the financial rewards.
“People like to be in control of developments in the community,” said Chad Walker, lead researcher in the project and a PhD candidate at Western.
The research paper, Toolkits for Turbines, suggests communities considered for wind farms be allowed a vote on the projects.
That would be a sharply different approach than taken by Ontario at the outset of its push into green energy when in 2009 it stripped municipalities of local planning power over wind and solar farms.
For their research, Walker and his colleagues studied three communities in Ontario — Adelaide-Metcalfe west of London, Norwich Township in Oxford County, and Wainfleet in the Regional Municipality of Niagara.
In Nova Scotia, seven communities with wind farms were studied.
The research included in-depth interviews with people living within two kilometres of a wind farm, as well as developers and provincial politicians. Surveys were also mailed to more than 1,300 homes within two kilometres of wind turbines.
While wind farms in Ontario have mainly been developed by large corporations, many foreign-based, Nova Scotia has required wind farms to be at least 51 per cent owned by people of the province.
While more community participation, more transparency and a wider spread of the financial benefit could improve acceptance of wind farms, Walker said it was clear there was no magic bullet that would satisfy everyone.
Mandatory municipal support
Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, a coalition of groups opposed to wind farm development, said it was heartened to see the research paper’s recommendation calling for mandatory support from a community before a wind power contract was awarded.
“Our position is that communities have valid reasons for not wanting power projects, especially if there will be negative effects for people, the environment and the economy and, as is the case in Ontario now, the power is not even needed,” Wilson said.
NOTE: Wind Concerns Ontario provided a detailed comment on a draft version of the research paper, which is available here: UWOToolkit-commentFINAL
To read the “Toolkit” document, go to: http://coarep.uwo.ca/documents.php