The return of the Unwilling Host

With new power proposals coming in 2025, Ontario’s rural communities are looking at whether they want to be power plantations for cities. Guess what the answer is?

Unwilling Host: without changes to regulations for setbacks, noise limits, Ontario communities have little choice but to say NO to new industrial wind [Shutterstock image]

March 18, 2024

The Unwilling Host resolutions passed by more than 100 Ontario municipal councils in 2013 is the legacy of the McGuinty-Wynne governments in Ontario. In 2009, then Premier Dalton McGuinty passed the Green Energy and Economy Act or GEA, which altered 21 separate pieces of legislation, including the Planning Act.

At the time, Premier McGuinty spoke about municipal approvals as an obstacle to his plans to push forward “green energy” specifically large-scale wind and solar, saying that the pre-GEA situation of municipal authority was a “patchwork”. In other words, Ontario’s democratically elected local councils stood in the way: he removed their authority.

Process “not right”

New Premier Kathleen Wynne came in after several years of problems with wind power sites. She admitted in an interview in 2013 with TVO’s Steve Paikin that “There are windmill—wind turbine issues in the province where communities said, the process hasn’t been right.”

The Speech from the Throne in February 2013 also referred to difficulties with locating energy projects in the province.

After that, Ontario municipalities in the rural areas decided a symbolic gesture was necessary to demonstrate dissatisfaction with the siting and approval process—the Unwilling Host  resolution was born.

In 2013-2014, more than 100 communities, almost one-quarter of all the municipalities in the province, passed a resolution expressing their demand to be an Unwilling Host to industrial wind power sites.

The historic list:

Addington Highlands, Lennox/Addington County

Adelaide-Metcalfe, Middlesex County

Alfred & Plantagenet, Prescott-Russell County

Amaranth, Dufferin County

Asphodel-Norwood. Peterborough County

Algonquin Highlands, Haliburton County

Armour, District of Parry Sound

Arran-Elderslie, Bruce County

Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh, Huron County

Bayham, Elgin County

Bluewater, Huron

Brethour, Timiskaming District

Brockton, Bruce

Brooke-Alvinston, Lambton County

Bruce Mines, Algoma District

Cavan-Monaghan, Peterborough

Central Elgin, Elgin

Central Huron, Huron

Chamberlain, Timiskaming

Champlain, Prescott-Russell

Chatsworth, Grey County

Clarington, Region of Durham

Dutton-Dunwich, Elgin

Dufferin, County of

East Ferris, Nipissing District

East Hawkesbury, Prescott-Russell

Edwardsburgh, Leeds and Grenville County

Elgin, County of

Elizabethtown-Kitley, Leeds and Grenville

Essex, Essex County

Enniskillen, Lambton County

Fauquier-Strickland, Cochrane District

Gananoque, Leeds and Grenville

Georgian Bay, Muskoka

Georgian Bluffs, Grey

Greater  Madawaska, Renfrew County

Greater Napanee, Lennox and Addington

Grey Highlands, Grey

Hastings, County of

Hastings Highlands, Hastings County

Havelock-Belmont-Methuen, Peterborough

Hawkesbury, Prescott-Russell

Hornepayne, Algoma

Howick, Huron

Huron, County of

Huron East, Huron

Huron-Kinloss, Bruce

Kawartha Lakes, City of

Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards, Renfrew

Killarney, Sudbury District

Kincardine, Bruce

Lakeshore, Essex

Lambton, County of

LaSalle, Essex

Laurentian Hills, Renfrew County

La Vallee, Rainy River

Leeds and the Thousand Islands, Leeds /Grenville

Lennox & Addington, County of

Madawaska Valley, Renfrew

Mapleton, Wellington

Magnetawan, Parry Sound

Marathon, Thunder Bay District

McDougall, Parry Sound

McNabb Braeside, Renfrew

Meaford, Grey

Merrickville-Wolford, Leeds and Grenville

Newbury, Middlesex

Mono, Dufferin County

Morris-Turnberry, Huron

Nairn and Hyman, Sudbury District

Nation/La Nation, Prescott-Russell

North Frontenac, Frontenac County

North Glengarry; Stormont, Dundas/ Glengarry

North Grenville, Leeds and Grenville

North Kawartha, Peterborough

North Middlesex, Middlesex

North Perth, Perth

North Stormont; Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry

Northern Bruce Peninsula, Bruce

Norwich, Oxford

Perth, County of

Perth East, Perth

Peterborough, County of

Pickering, Durham

Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton

Port Colborne, Niagara

Prescott-Russell, United Counties of

Prince Edward, County of

Rainy River, Rainy River District

Ramara, Simcoe County

Sarnia, Lambton

Simcoe, County of

South Algonquin, Nipissing

South Bruce Peninsula, Bruce

Southgate, Grey

Southwold, Elgin

Sundridge, Parry Sound

Tillsonburg, Oxford

Timmins, City

Trent Lakes, Peterborough

Tiny, Simcoe

Tudor and Cashel, Hastings

Tweed, Hastings

Tyendinaga, Hastings

Uxbridge, Durham

Val Rita-Harty, Cochrane District

Warwick, Lambton

Wainfleet, Niagara Region

Welland, Niagara

Wellington North, Wellington

West Elgin, Elgin

West Grey, Grey

West Lincoln, Niagara

In 2019, the Ontario government under Premier Doug Ford, repealed the Green Energy Act, and restored municipal approval powers for energy projects. Today, new power projects must have municipal approval to get a contract with the Independent Electricity System Operator or IESO.

In the fall of 2023, however, proposals came forward for a Request For Proposals by the IESO for battery Energy Storage Systems or BESS. As documented already on this site, the process was a shambles: proposals came forward with few details, so-called public engagement meetings were a last-minute sham, and approaches to municipal councils for approval resolutions left municipalities scrambling for details that would ensure due diligence was done before their decision. Municipalities were being encouraged to approve projects via “blanket resolutions,” in other words, to simply approve any proposals that came before them.

Not so fast, the people of Ontario said.

Multiple BESS proposals were refused because of the flaws in the process. As Ottawa Councillor George Darouze put it when that city turned down three of four proposals, the process felt like “boxes” to be ticked. His city had a more rigorous process for much smaller projects that multi-million-dollar power systems, he added.

It was not so much that Ontario communities wanted to say NO to BESS but rather, that they wanted to know more.

It’s a different story with industrial-scale wind power, however. Since the first wind turbines appeared in 2006, and then more were forced on communities after 2009, the problems with the noisy, invasive, expensive power generators are well known.

In short, it’s not 2009.

Now the IESO is getting set to launch the LT2-RFP which will open up to new wind, solar, hydro and biomass.

Already, several municipalities have passed resolutions to designate themselves Unwilling Hosts to industrial wind power sites.

They are:

Arran-Elderslie

Chatsworth

East Zorra-Tavistock.

Why the renewed interest?

Simply put, Ontario has had problems with its existing wind turbine sites—7,000 plus in fact. That is the estimated number (it is likely much higher) of Incident Report files the environment ministry has documenting citizen complaints about wind turbine noise, disturbed water wells, and wildlife deaths.

Until Ontario regulations for setbacks and noise limits are changed, Ontario municipalities have little choice but to say NO to new industrial wind power sites.

UNWILLING HOST

The complete list of Unwilling Host municipalities to date (April 8, 2024) may be found here: 

#UnwillingHost

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3 Comments

  • Ike Bottema
    Posted April 2, 2024 9:23 pm 0Likes

    I can only find one difference from the historic list and the current one. #26 East Zorra-Tavistock, Oxford appears in the historic list but not the current list.

  • Dan Wrightman
    Posted April 12, 2024 3:16 pm 0Likes

    Middlesex Centre is missing from the historic list. I recall council voted for it sometime in the first half for 2013

    • admin
      Posted April 13, 2024 6:00 pm 0Likes

      Thank you so much! As you know there was no official repository for these resolutions so we are picking that up now, and hope to do our best with a current list

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