Wind power projects should be put to community vote: U Ottawa researcher

Dismissing concerns of communities not helpful, says research team. Sensitive landscapes need protection

Community protest at Dutton Dunwich.
Community protest at Dutton Dunwich.

Globe and Mail, January 25, 2016

Renewable energy developers – and those who regulate them – need to be more sensitive to the concerns of residents who are going to have massive wind turbines built near them, a group of Canadian academics says.

In a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Energy, the eight authors – six of whom are university professors or researchers – analyze why there is so much debate over the placement of wind turbines in Ontario.

Ontario has the greatest number of wind turbines of any province, and their construction has created considerable conflict between developers and those opposed to the installation of large industrial machinery in rural environments. Often these fights end up pitting neighbours against neighbours, and they can become big political battles at the municipal level.

Ontario has altered its rules since it first encouraged wind farms in its Green Energy Act in 2009, said Stewart Fast, a senior research associate at the University of Ottawa and one of the paper’s authors. But even though the new rules encourage more input from local governments and residents near proposed turbines, these changes haven’t been enough to stop the disputes, he said. …

Read the story here.

“The idea of some sort of community referendum on whether or not the municipality should support a project is probably a good thing.” –Stewart Fast, University of Ottawa

What's your reaction?


  • Pat Cusack
    Posted January 25, 2016 3:42 pm 0Likes

    The bulk of the energy used is in the large cities. All of these cities have Govt owned property and there are a considerable number of fairly wide hydro right of ways. If the turbines were built on those spaces the power produced could be used close to the source reducing line losses, the residents would be able to enjoy the windmills and since the property is already owned no big lease agreements need be paid reducing the cost and possibly making production competitive. Lets piush for this one, every park, cloverleaf, hydro right away and even on Queens Park grounds, no need to stick it to us country folk.

  • Barbara
    Posted January 25, 2016 3:52 pm 0Likes

    Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
    Advisory Board includes:
    Jeffrey D. Sachs, Columbia University, Co-Chair.
    Tony Hodge, Queen’s University, Canada
    Oil, gas and mining here!

  • Mike Jankowski
    Posted January 25, 2016 3:56 pm 0Likes

    That fact that a government would proceed without due consideration is demonstration of one of the following;
    1.) Poor planning – OR –
    2.) A motive which contains no regard for the health and wellness of the people and animals in the subject areas. (Direct violation of mandates.)
    Perhaps both.

  • ScepticalGord
    Posted January 25, 2016 7:08 pm 0Likes

    Blah, blah, blah. This is a pro wind article, in case you’re wondering.
    What the Canadian academics, headed by self described “social scientist” (alarm bells, ding, ding, ding!!!) Stewart Fast, are really saying is that rural citizens should be given a bit bigger soap box from which to whine about “clean, green wind turbines” before being told to suck it up and get with the program (for the greater good!!!).
    It’s like being offered one more last meal before being hung by the neck until you’re dead.
    Blah, blah, blah …

    • Barbara
      Posted January 25, 2016 8:30 pm 0Likes

      Nature Energy
      ‘Lessons learned from Ontario wind energy disputes’, Published January 25, 2016
      Abstract available but the article itself requires payment.
      Click on the names for author’s ID.
      Wonder who peer reviewed this paper?

    • Wind Concerns Ontario
      Posted January 26, 2016 10:47 am 0Likes

      It is a step forward to have a report like this which clearly states that Ontario’s “Top-down” approach was wrong-headed, and in the larger picture, did not achieve what the government SAID it wanted, which was “community-based” power initiatives. This is an indication of what really went on: the hijacking of an environmental agenda for the benefit of big corporations.

      • Barbara
        Posted January 26, 2016 3:34 pm 0Likes

        Provides information to the public that they otherwise would not have access to.

    • ScepticalGord
      Posted January 26, 2016 1:37 pm 0Likes

      “The idea of some sort of community referendum on whether or not the municipality should support a project is probably a good thing.” –Stewart Fast, University of Ottawa.
      Wow, what a forceful, right to the point statement from the “social scientist”!.
      Such emphatic words: “idea”, “some sort of”, “whether or not”, “should”, “probably”. What a load of hooey.
      Here, let me try:
      A community referendum must be held prior to a municipality providing support for any project – ScepticalGord, High School Flunky

  • Sommer
    Posted January 25, 2016 8:59 pm 0Likes

    To my knowledge there has never been a greater violation of rural people in the history of this province. There is no “debate”. Victims whose homes have been surrounded with turbines have been utterly ignored. Premier Wynne has been sent hundreds of emails from residents of Huron County, regarding adverse psychological and physical health effects and property loss issues and she has never responded to the harsh reality these people deal with on a daily basis. Innocent, non consenting people are forced to deal with turbines and their infrastructure sited too close to their homes. She has never addressed these people.

  • wgulden
    Posted January 25, 2016 11:03 pm 0Likes

    A fair amount of Fast’s earlier research was done on Amherst Island. I’ve met him and he helped me with studying property values on Wolfe, which is posted on I think he is still firmly in the camp that thinks IWT’s are a good thing, overall, they just need to be a little more sensitive to the natives. It is always interesting to me what blind spots otherwise decent and intelligent people have. Unless I’m the one with the blind spot, but I think the actual evidence is on my side on this one – IWT’s on balance are bad news in every way they can be.

    • Wind Concerns Ontario
      Posted January 26, 2016 10:43 am 0Likes

      The “bottom line” is that industrial-scale wind power doesn’t do anything for the environment.

  • Segue C
    Posted January 26, 2016 3:55 pm 0Likes

    Again, wind industry apologists providing talking points for the green tyrants who only need to be more “sensitive” now!
    Has anyone here not experienced the “Delphi Technique” communications of public consultations with the state sanctioned torturers?
    Researchers who use the term NIMBY (erroneously, for the most part, including those who are saying this industrial-scale crap doesn’t belong anywhere) and then presume to define what is appropriate communication should be recognized as self-serving spin doctors.
    This is the NDP policy that the poison pill will be swallowed if sugar-coated; community buy-in is not going to change the science nor the economics of the unreliables on a modern grid.
    If we don’t all know by now that language is being controlled by the “progressives” as they typically do, to drive their collectivist agenda…then there are people who have their fingers in their ears.

  • Richard Mann
    Posted January 27, 2016 8:50 pm 0Likes

    It is worth noting that this paper has extensive references and archives of several internal/unpublished documents. All this information is now available to a wide audience.

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