Thirteen years after Ontario mayor pleads for action on wind turbines: no change

A letter sent in 2011 to then environment minister by the mayor of Amaranth requested action on negative impacts of wind turbines and a transformer, specifically greater setbacks. Nothing has been done.

Melancthon turbines in Amaranth Twp: number one for noise complaints [Photo: Wikipedia]

February 1, 2024

©Wind Concerns Ontario

In 2011, then Mayor of the Township of Amaranth Don MacIver, wrote to the incumbent Minister of the Environment of Ontario, John Wilkinson,* on the topic of wind turbines. He was apparently following up on in-person meetings with the Minister at the Good Roads conference held that year.

While Amaranth supported “green energy” sources, he wrote, the reality of living with wind turbines was negative impacts on the health and wealth of residents.

MacIver noted that prior to the approval of the large wind turbine project proposed for Amaranth, Council requested “human and animal health baseline studies and real estate baseline studies be included in the Environmental Assessment Process. The need for these studies was rejected.”

“There is no question,” the mayor wrote that the wind turbines and transformer…have negatively impacted the health and wealth of neighbouring residents.”

He concluded that “The Council of Amaranth is opposed to any further wind turbine projects until the negative impacts of the current wind farm are corrected.” This would make Amaranth the first “Unwilling Host” to wind power projects in Ontario.

Setbacks from wind turbines ‘not sufficient’

In the rest of his letter, MacIver listed the critical issues about the Amaranth wind project:

  1. Wind farm owners should have to “buy the land like any other developer” with “appropriate compensation for adjacent neighbours.”
  2. Families in Amaranth were forced to leave their homes due to noise from turbines and a transformer. “Many expert solutions have tried to alleviate the low frequency noise and vibration problems—all have failed.” He demanded that the environment ministry find a solution, including moving the equipment.
  3. Setback in the Green Energy Act “are not sufficient to protect the health and wealth of neighbouring families. “The wind turbines need to relocate onto lands purchased by the developer with appropriate compensation for neighbouring families along with greater setbacks.”
  4. Amaranth questioned locating wind turbines in an area prone to tornadoes, and requested that the existing turbines be moved “away from neighbouring families.”
  5. “Reverse negative setbacks” where land cannot be developed on properties adjacent to land being leased for turbines has had the effect of “sterilizing” properties. The result is a conflict between a permanent landowner and essentially a “tenant” (the wind power operator). The solution: “force wind farm developers to adhere to the same planning process as any other developers.”
  6. Loss of property value demonstrated by loss of 50-percent of value for at least one landowner. House have been purchased by the wind power operator because of problems with noise and vibration. “It is unacceptable that an industrial use should force the residents to have to uproot and leave the area.”
  7. Amaranth will not support any further developments, including a proposed “Whittington Wind Farm.”**

The time for serious corrective action is already overdue,” Mayor MacIver wrote.

That was 2011.

Now, in 2024, the Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO is about to launch another Long-Term Request For Proposals, which will include wind.

However, the regulations in Ontario for setbacks between wind turbines and other land uses, e.g., homes, remain unchanged.

Wind power projects have been allowed to operate without resolution of complaints about noise, or disturbed water wells, and only about half of projects operating today have successfully completed acoustic audits to verify compliance with regulations

In short, nothing has been done.

As for the wind power project in Amaranth, it remains number one in Ontario to this day for complaints filed about noise. (See Wind Concerns Ontario noise complaint report below, compiled from government information received via Freedom of Information requests.)

Make changes, now

Our recommendations:

The Ontario government should conduct a review of the siting and approval process for new wind power projects, and demand that any problems be resolved before operators/developers can apply for new contracts.

Greater setbacks between wind turbines must be developed, in response to problems already seen in Ontario, and to align with the actions of other jurisdictions worldwide.

Ontario municipalities are now required to pass a resolution of support for proposed wind power projects.

The people of Ontario need assurance that mistakes of the past will not continue.

Wind Concerns Ontario

*John Wilkinson was roundly defeated later that year, in the 2011 provincial election. Opposition to the wave of wind turbines was a factor.

**The Whittington Wind Farm was approved despite the municipal government opposition, and commenced operation in 2014.


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