Category Archives: Agriculture

Dairy farmer hopes there’s still time to pull the plug

Darryl DegrootPaul Morden, Sarnia Observer
Darryl De Groot says it’s gotten to the point that farmers have stopped waving to each other on Northville Road. And that’s just one impact the dairy farmer sees that Ontario’s Green Energy Act, and Nextera’s proposed Jericho wind energy project, is having on rural Lambton Shores. “Country life out here, it’s not like it once was,” De Groot said.

Florida-based Nextera is planning to build a 92-turbine wind farm in Lambton Shores and neighbouring Warwick Township, and the community has divided between farmers who signed leases, allowing the wind companies to build turbines on their land, and those who didn’t, De Groot said. When the land agents came around in 2008, he and his father took a look at what they were offering, and turned them down. “Dad said, ‘You know what, anything to do with the government that is 50 pages long, don’t sign it.'”

But other farmers did, including some of De Groot’s neighbours. Nextera received a contract to sell power to Ontario, and is in the final stages of securing provincial environmental approval to move ahead with its project. “Farmers aren’t waving at each other on the roads any more,” De Groot said. “It’s sad . . . it should have been done a different way. It shouldn’t have been pushed on us.”

De Groot grew up on the farm near the small community of Arkona, went to agricultural college, married and has a one-year-old child he still hopes will be the fourth generation of the family to farm on Northville Road. Read article

Timely advice for turbine hosts

dwarfing the electricity polesPeter Epp, Sarnia Observer
As discussion about wind turbine development in Sarnia-Lambton grows, so does information about the industry and some of the possible pitfalls associated with its activity. At the most recent meeting of CORE (Conserve Our Rural Enniskillen), an insurance agent suggested that farmers and other landowners who agree to become a host for turbine development should think twice about making that decision, because their insurance coverage might be affected.

Greg Cameron said Ontario’s insurance industry does not have uniform policies on liability insurance for farmers with industrial wind turbines, partly because the industry is so new. In fact, he said a recent Ontario Court decision – which ruled that property owners living near a proposed development in Collingwood could go to court to seek damages to cover the devaluation of their property once the turbines are built – has changed everything. Read article

Ontario wind farms are really wind factories

CHTHAM KENT ONTARIO  BORALEX FRONT LINE WIND FROM HWY3 TABLOT TRAILJim Merriam, London Free Press
The twin counties of Bruce and Grey, which lie south of Georgian Bay and west of Lake Huron, have been the source of much of rural Ontario’s opposition to wind factory developments. These developments are commonly called wind farms, but wind factories is a more accurate description.

The opposition to turbines spread across the province just about as fast as the giant turbines started to crop up. Since Ontario has been in the throes of a rush to wind power for a number of years, that was fast indeed. The breadth of the opposition to wind turbines is nowhere better documented than in the results of the last provincial election when voters across rural and much of northern Ontario turned their backs on the McGuinty government. They did so largely because of the way local planning controls were neutered so wind factories could be forced down rural throats.

A major argument against wind factory developments is the adverse effects they have on the health of nearby residents. Provincial health officials gave no credence to those concerns and news releases to that effect from 2010 still show up when you search the topic on government websites. Read article

OFA Betrays Farm Communities

wind-turbines-are-bad-neighbours-proof-line.jpgTom Melady, London Free Press
One of the biggest violations against Ontario agriculture and its rural communities has prompted our farm business to ask for a refund of our membership fees from Ontario Federation of Agriculture. Industrial wind turbines are wreaking havoc on Rural Ontario and OFA fiddles as the countryside burns. The social, financial and agronomical impacts of these 500 ft. monstrosities demand great analysis.

In January 2012, I, along with a group of 3 farmers including a 19 year old female farming enthusiast, presented our detailed concerns and impacts of industrial wind turbines to the OFA Board of Directors in Guelph. When OFA heard of the 6000 wind turbines intended for rural Ontario, the dysfunction of the communities in which they are placed, and the sacrifice of 20,000 acres of prime agricultural land, one would think that OFA would seriously investigate these negative repercussions against agriculture. To not research the topic is irresponsible. However, the Board issued some whimsical doublespeak statement and forgot about the issue, the issue that will have the greatest negative impact on agriculture, ever! Read the rest of this entry

Wind activists want Lambton Shores to take a tougher stand with wind energy companies

stw-wind-response MarcelleSarnia Lambton Independent
Local anti-wind activists are worried Lambton Shores officials are not making tough enough demands nor asking the right questions on the two wind energy projects in the community. Lambton Shores preparing its comments on the Suncor Energy project (62 turbines) and NextEra Energy (92 turbines) which will be within the municipal boundaries.

The municipality planned to hire a consultant to comb through the binders of questions to be answered but found any firm with expertise in the area was already employed by the wind energy companies. Marcelle Brooks, spokesperson for Middlesex Lambton Wind Concern, has looked at the municipal response to both projects and has one major concern. In both documents, the municipality states the turbines are equipped with sensors which automatically shut down if abnormal amounts of noise is found.

The sound waves are one of the major concerns of the people opposed to wind energy who say the sound can cause headaches, sleeplessness and tinnitus. “I question where that information was obtained,” says Brooks. In fact, in an email to anti-wind activist one of NextEra’s consultants debunks the idea. “The turbines can be shut down remotely but not as a result of achieving a certain sound limit,” writes Derek Dudek in an email. “The 40 decibels is not measured at the turbine but rather at the receptor location (nearby homes.)” Read article

Rural issues go beyond agriculture

watford protest2Jim Merriam, Chatham Daily News
Would it be Premier-Agriculture Minister Kathleen Wynne? Or does Agriculture Minister-Premier Kathleen Wynne sound better? No matter how you slice them, it is difficult to make the two titles work together. But how you say them is but a tiny problem in comparison to how you combine the two jobs and do them both well.

Wynne mentioned after she won the Liberal leadership she would serve a term as agriculture minister. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Under Premier Dalton McGuinty, agriculture was no more than an afterthought. Time and again the policies of the ag ministry worked against, instead of for, farmers.

On one hand, the ministry hit small abattoirs in the province with such burdensome and often ridiculous regulations that many closed. At the same time, the government was promoting local food — you know, eat food produced within 100 kilometres of home to help local farmers. With no abattoir within 300 km, that becomes pretty difficult.

But those are only part of the concerns. The full name of the ministry is the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs or OMAFRA. As much as agriculture and food production are in serious need of attention, there are major issues under the broader “rural” heading.

Main among these is the placement of wind turbines, an issue that has torn communities, rural churches and even families apart. In addition, the government has trampled the democratic rights of rural residents in its attempts to kiss up to overseas corporations that bring us the giant wind turbines. Read article

Wynne isn’t fooling rural residents

rural ontarioBy Christina Blizzard, London Free Press
Some of Kathleen Wynne’s best friends are farmers. Seriously. Don’t think of her as the premier-designate. Think of her as city slicker turned agriculture minister. In Toronto, she’s the cool downtown gay negotiator. In the country, she’s the Wellington boot-wearing, down-to-earth, carrot-packing agriculture minister.

Heck, she probably calls square-dancing in her spare time. Wynne hauled reporters to Gwillimdale Farms in Bradford to tell us how much she likes farming and how her dad used to go to a farm every summer and how she still knows people who are farmers. She likes them. She really likes them.

City slickers call it bafflegab. Farmers call it horse manure. Or words to that effect. Either way, it’s going to take a lot more than a photo-op with tractors for Wynne to undo the damage the Liberals have done to rural Ontario. “I’m very serious about this,” she told reporters. “I’ve made it my business to get to understand what goes on in rural Ontario and in the agriculture community.”

Oh, please. The Grits have destroyed a way of life. The countryside has been blighted with ugly wind turbines that have not just destroyed the landscape, but are also part of the Green Energy Act that’s pushed up the price of electricity to astronomical levels and thereby pushed up the cost of farming. Read article

Former Liberal (Pro-turbine) MPP Maria Van Bommel to provide “rural insight”…ahem…

VanBommelBothSidesBy Tara Jeffrey, Sarnia Observer
Maria Van Bommel is hoping to be a voice for rural Ontario now that she’s part of an advisory team to incoming premier Kathleen Wynne. “It’s not every day the premier calls you directly and asks for your participation,” said the former Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP. “I take it as a real opportunity to present rural Ontario to the premier and hope it will have some impact in bettering communications.”

Van Bommel was one of several key players named to a transition team that Wynne says will help shape her government. Others include Arnold Chan, vice president, Aboriginal Affairs and General Counsel, former Toronto mayor David Crombie, and Lyn McLeod, Ontario Liberal Party leader from 1992 to 1996.

“I’m in very impressive company here,” said Van Bommel, pointing to a series of upcoming meetings for the group, as Wynne prepares to open the Ontario legislature on Feb. 19. For years, the Middlesex County resident has operated the family farm with her husband. Van Bommel says her contacts within the farm community will help strengthen the relationship between the premier’s office and rural Ontario. Read article

Monica Elmes: Living with Turbines – Part 2

Chatham Kent Ontario Enbridge wind from Taylor RoadYear of the Turbines, Part Two
(read Part One)
by Eric Nixon, Hayter-Walden Publications
“Dec 17: Early AM. Neil not sleeping well, me neither.” Monica Elmes wrote those words in her diary back in 2010. It wasn’t until some time later that she realized what had happened the previous day outside her home in Chatham-Kent. After years of preparation and close to nine months of construction, Enbridge Inc. had flicked the switch and started 44 powerful wind turbines turning near the Elmes household. Lack of sleep was just the first symptom for Elmes and her family.

“To me, the visual intrusion is huge but, also, when they started to function, the noise intrusion was way more than I ever thought. When I first saw the map and saw where we were located, I thought, ‘Oh, good, we’re 1.5 km away from the closest one,’” says Elmes. She almost let out a sigh of relief at the time, not expecting the noise would be bothersome. Nothing could be further from the truth. Noise levels today with the turbines operating are often ten times what they were before.

And noise was just the beginning. For the first time in her life, Elmes began experiencing painful earaches. “It was kind of a definitive moment for me when I realized,” she says. At first, she didn’t equate the turbine noise and the ear discomfort. But, one day when the turbines stopped, her ears started popping and crackling – and she realized the increasingly worsening ear pains were being caused by the turning blades.

One of the problems so many people have with turbines is that they’re intermittent and unpredictable. Elmes says, “It’s incredibly variable. There’s times when it’s fine, other than visually. There are other times where it feels like something’s beating you over the head.”

Elmes is fortunate that she’s mostly susceptible only to health issues associated with the audible noise from the turbines. Her spouse, Neil, is a completely different story. “My husband is the one I worry about more, because he seems to be sensitive to what I would assume is non-audible low-frequency noise, so he doesn’t sleep well anymore.” Read the rest of this entry

Monica Elmes: Before the turbines – Part 1

CHATHAM KENT ONTARIO ENBRIDGE WIND FROM HWY3 TALBOT TRAIL15Year of the Turbines, Part One
by Eric Nixon, Hayter-Walden Publications
This is a story about one woman and her family. Average people, like most of us. It’s about how their happy, rural lives changed dramatically beginning a few short years ago. About how they were transformed from contented farmers into faceless people who feel trapped in their own lives. It’s a story of what happened when wind turbines changed everything. And it’s a story about how people’s lives in our communities are about to change, too, with the proposed installation of up to 400 turbines right in our own backyard.

Monica Elmes lives in Chatham-Kent, about an hour or so south of here. She and her husband Neil have owned a small cash crop farm just south of Ridgetown for the past 17 years. She’s an intelligent person who studied Science and Agriculture and worked as a research technician for the University of Guelph and Ridgetown College. Slightly more than a decade ago, she and Neil decided to have a child and she’s been a stay-at-home mom ever since.

Until a few years ago, she described her life on the farm as ‘fabulous.’ “We bought our property and farm here planning to never leave, have done extensive renovations and everything we can with the view that this was where we were going to live and die forever – and absolutely loved this place,” she says.

As a farmer, she and Neil have always been concerned about the environment. “I’m really an environmentally conscious person. Everything we do on our farm – we have our environmental farm plan. Everything we do in our home – we’ve always thought about those consequences to the environment,” she says.

That’s what got her excited about the idea of wind turbines in the first place. About six years ago, there was a lot of talk in her community through the grapevine about people wanting to lease to wind companies – and the couple were definitely interested. At the time, crop prices were really bad and they were intrigued when a group of local residents approached them: “They thought if, as neighbours, we could get together and form sort of a group to approach the company, it would be beneficial for everyone to have that sort of power position, kind of a cooperative, community thing,” she says. “A lot of people – ourselves, as well – we thought this would be a good thing for the environment – and an opportunity to make money at the same time.” Read the rest of this entry

“Pay attention. We vote”

lfp1London Free Press
“Pay attention. We vote.”
That’s the overriding message The Free Press heard during a 600-km road trip through Southwestern Ontario’s heartland as Ontario Liberals get set to choose a new leader and premier this weekend.

The 10-riding region is largely an ocean of Tory blue, with a two-seat Liberal island. Little wonder some residents feel they’re afterthoughts to Queen’s Park policies on wind turbines, education, job creation and other issues.

We hit the road with the question: If you had one message for Ontario’s new leader, what would it be? Here are some of their answers.
[excerpts]
RIDING: Chatham-Kent-Essex
PARTY LEANINGS
: Strong Liberal loyalties, even against a Tory tide, but voted Conservative last time.
ISSUES: Turbine towers, farming are rural hot buttons, with boom-and-bust manufacturing sector underpinning the urban economy.
Wayne Glassford, Muirkirk- A power struggle — its source, availability and cost — is frustrating Glassford in his plans to add a dryer and storage facility to his corn-growing operation. A line of turbines starts just south of the Agris co-op where he’s parked himself to check out grain trends, but somehow it’s still too expensive to get sufficient, reliable power to his farm a few kilometres north. “Energy is what this all revolves around. How to generate it, how to distribute it and how to make sure we make best use of it. We need equitable distribution of energy within the province so that all people have access to it, and access to it within a reasonable price level.”

RIDING: Sarnia-Lambton
PARTY LEANINGS
: Has a Conservative MPP now but the riding has been known to vote against the provincial tide.
ISSUES: Announced closings of Sarnia jail, Hiawatha Horse Park, coal-fired generation plant. Natural gas power plant to be built; ethanol, solar, wind economies growing.
Jean-Guy LePage, Wyoming – Wind turbines are the big issue, with hundreds either planned or built within half-hour drive of his home. “I don’t think it’s working, the windmills. I think it’s bad for the health. It devalues your property.”

RIDING: Lambton-Kent-Middlesex
PARTY LEANINGS
: Conservative now, but historical voting preferences all over the map.
ISSUES: With no community populations larger than 14,000, this is one of the largest ridings in region. Wind turbines, farm policy and education dominate political landscape.
Christopher Thorne, Kerwood – He’s baking tea biscuits for his two children as they return early from school. His daughter, having had to forgo her favourite school sports, is worried about the fate of her Grade 8 graduation party and school trip. Meanwhile, Thorne’s anxiety grows about a wind turbine that will soon sprout in the cornfield behind their country kitchen. To the soft-spoken Thorne, both issues have a common theme: his children. “This is my backyard and we bought this house to bring our kids up in a safe area.” McGuinty forced turbines on rural residents and will leave before he sees their impact; he imposed a teacher contract and then left parents, kids and teachers to sort it all out. “I think he came in and made a mess and then walked away with his tail between his legs.”
Phil Patterson, Strathroy – Gardenia Restaurant is the unofficial gathering spot for town pundits and local and visiting politicians. Patterson, the cook here, rarely gets to speak his mind but he wonders why none of the politicians seem to bring spending under control. “The onus is on the people to bail out (politicians’) bad decisions.” He’s annoyed that wind turbines have been forced upon surrounding communities despite neighbours’ objections.

Riding: Perth–Wellington
PARTY LEANINGS
: There have only been two elections since the riding was founded in 2003. It’s Conservative now, but the first election went Liberal.
ISSUES: St. Marys, Stratford, Minto and Mapleton all fall within Perth–Wellington’s boundaries. The towns are full of independent businesses, and soaring hydro expenses have put an extra strain on small business owners.
Ron Cottrell, St. Marys – Cottrell has chocolate on his apron, which is just one of the perils of owning The Chocolate Factory. But making the sweets requires more than getting your hands dirty — it also means using a fair bit of electricity. “We’ve noticed a sizable increase in our hydro bills,” Cottrell says. He says small-town businesses already fight to keep customers from heading into nearby cities and rising expenses are an added strain. He hopes a new premier could bring relief from the rising costs. “Take another look at how much the whole green energy thing is going to be costing consumers and business people.”

RIDING: Huron–Bruce
PARTY LEANINGS
: A Conservative win in 2011 turned the tide after two Liberal victories, but Huron-Bruce was blue in the late 90s, too.
ISSUES: Wind farms have been sprouting up across Southwestern Ontario, and Huron–Bruce is no different. The turbines are championed for their clean energy but have caused debate as many worry about their effects on property values, health and scenery.
Steve Olley, Zurich – Huron–Bruce envelops kilometres of Lake Huron’s scenic shores, but the beautiful horizon might soon be dotted with energy-producing turbines. “Many of the local people think that it’s going to completely destroy the beauty of our area,” says Olley. “I would say the population is pretty split as to if this is a good thing or not.” While he worries the wind farms could wreck the area’s natural beauty, he recognizes the importance of green energy. He says he hopes a new premier will still put up new turbines — just somewhere else. “Find areas that maybe not so many people live in, you know? Not so many people would be affected by what you’re going to do.” Read article

Somewhere west of Brampton . . .

rural ontarioPeter Epp, Chatham Daily News
[excerpt] The fact that Wynne would use the “rural card” shows how desperate she must be. The agriculture ministry was fiscally gutted by former Premier Mike Harris in 1999, and that status was upheld by successor Ernie Eves and then by Premier Dalton McGuinty. It remains a mystery why Wynne would measure her possible success in Southwestern Ontario by promising to head up a ministry whose influence at Cabinet has been greatly diminished. It further suggests that she knows very little about the province as it exists west of Brampton.

It’s this kind of political paternalism that remains so offensive to Ontarians who don’t live in Toronto. Agriculture is a large part of the economy in this region, but so is the automotive, manufacturing and petro-chemical industries. And we also have more wind turbines than any other part of Ontario, a direct product of the Liberal government’s Green Energy Policy.

Wynne said she wants to address the issue of wind turbines, but in typical Toronto-Speak said her role as premier would be to better convince the people of Southwestern Ontario that wind turbines are good for us. She obviously doesn’t question her government’s judgment in introducing legislation that has changed our landscape forever, created divisions in some communities, and raised questions about health and safety.

And Wynne wonders why the Liberals failed in the last election to retain some seats in Southwestern Ontario? Read article

Field Notes from a Landowner/NextEra Wind Meeting

wind-liar-447x292I attended a meeting of ~ 20 landowners along the proposed 115KV transmission from the Adelaide Wind project north to the “tap” into the 500 kv line at Nairn. The NextEra/FPL project manager was there with 2 “landmen” (that’s what they’re called). The whole meeting was about 1.5 hours total. It was a “mixed” meeting in that roughly half the attendees were signed to wind leases. NextEra agreed to the meeting in the hopes that they could answer questions about the trans line and hopefully get the adjoining landowners to sign easements that would facilitate placement and alignment of the poles.

To better understand the situation, it is helpful to know the layout:

1) County Rd. #6 is an old, narrow roadway with houses very close to the road. An historic building, the old Keyser General Store literally sits on the roadway, in fact, only about 10′ of the store are on the owners’ property.

2) For a distance of over 5 miles, adjoining landowners are refusing to sign transmission easements. One property owner turned down an amount in excess of $200,000. Another refused over $150,000. These are people who do not want to sell-out and move; nor, do they want their farm operations damaged. Read the rest of this entry

Hello wind turbine – Goodbye insurance

Even the insurance brokers want nothing to do with wind turbines on your property!

Green energy woes discussed at Lambton NFU annual meeting

By John Phair Today’s Farmer

There’s not a whole lot good about wind turbines, or for that matter, Ontario’s Green Energy Act.

At least that seemed to be the general opinion expressed at the annual meeting of Local 328 (Lambton County) National ­Farmers Union, held recently at the Forest Agricultural Society Hall.

The organization’s outgoing president said issues surrounding wind generators and the Green Energy Act were among his greatest concerns for the rural community as he wrapped up his term of office.

“The thing that had the biggest impact on me are issues regarding wind generators and green energy and the true costs behind them,” said Joe Vye in his report to the membership.

Vye stressed that he hopes no one signs a lease agreement with any energy company, whether it be a natural gas, oil, wind or solar company without having it vetted by a lawyer who specializes in that field.

He noted that he was recently asked to look over a contract from an oil company that wanted to drill on one of his neighbour’s land and was astounded by what he read. Read the rest of this entry

Farmers again near boiling point

By Jim Merriam, QMI Agency

In the early 1980s, a group of angry farmers grabbed their rifles and shotguns, donned ski masks and posed for the press.

The picture, taken in the haymow of an old barn near Owen Sound, was front-page news across the country.

The farmers in the picture and many others had reached the breaking point.

It was the age of usurious interest rates that made farming and other small businesses impossible to operate.

The sympathy of much of rural Ontario was with those farmers who courageously brought the rural plight to the public’s attention.

Many residents who lived and worked along the back roads of the province believed the real criminals were government leaders that sanctioned rates of more than 20% on an ongoing basis. (Some businesses paid up to 24% interest on operating loans during the period).

Because of these rates, farmers had been in a fight for their lives and livelihoods against the bureaucracy and banks long before the picture appeared.

But the photo-op was the point at which city folks finally sat up and took notice of the turmoil that was destroying lives and communities throughout the province.

Thirty years have passed and there are similarities with the rural Ontario of today. Family farms are rapidly disappearing, even though the economics of agriculture have improved, particularly in the last few years. But relations with the government are little different. The province continues to run roughshod over rural communities as if nothing has been learned since1980.

Green energy — particularly wind turbines — is one issue that has rural Ontario boiling. But there are many others, including the future of rural health care, government’s love for bigger schools even when they are no better, an assault on small school bus operators, mind-boggling regulations for something as simple as a liquor licence for a community dance, etc.

The folks battling the wind turbines are among the first to reach a frustration point not seen since the ’80s. This week, those activist municipal politicians led a public shunning of Premier Dalton McGuinty by 80 or so delegates to the annual good roads convention.

For their trouble, they got a vague promise that the province will restore “some” autonomy to municipalities that want to limit the number of wind turbines. “Some” change is the best the premier can come up with after years of rural residents battling the issue.

Contrast that to the sudden response the province provided to Toronto when that council discussed transit needs in the Big Smoke and you get an understanding of how neglected and ignored rural residents feel.

I asked one opponent of turbines about the similarities to the unrest of the early ’80s. “The time for civil unrest may be approaching,” this individual said.

Combine that comment with others, such as “let’s meet cabinet ministers outside of the cities with spreaders full of manure” and it’s obvious trouble is brewing.

Thirty years ago a band of gun-totin’ farmers got some action from the banks, the government and among themselves.

That photo was the seminal event in the founding of the Canadian Farm Survival Association. An organization of rural ministries also sprang into action to help families facing loss of livelihoods and the possible suicide of family members.

New ways were developed to finance the beef industry, based in part on the co-op model. Rural communities eventually calmed because something was being done about their concerns.

Nothing is being done today.

jmerriam@bmts.com

Concerned citizens attend wind turbine meeting

February 22, 2012 Scott Nixon– Exeter Times

GRAND BEND – Those interested and concerned about the several large-scale wind turbine projects planned for the region packed the Grand Bend Public School gym last Thursday for an information meeting presented by the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group (MLWAG).

Guest speakers presented information on the health concerns of humans living near wind turbines, the impact on the environment, real estate values and electrical pollution.

MLWAG is appealing the Zephyr Wind Development in the Watford area and member Muriel Allingham kicked off the meeting by noting that 422 industrial wind turbines are planned for Huron County, with 250 in Lambton Shores, including 48 in the Grand Bend area. She said the turbines are taller than a 50-storey building.
“These things are quite big monstrosities.”

Of the concerns some members of the public have about large wind farms is the potential of the harm the turbines will do to their health. On that note, the Michaud family of Thamesville spoke about how their health has been affected since turbines were erected near their hobby farm.

The family built their home in 2006, discovering in 2009 that turbines were planned for the area. Within two days of the new turbines going online, Lisa Michaud was in the emergency room with vertigo. She has experienced sleep deprivation from the constant sound of the turbines and has a constant ringing in her ears, along with pain. Read the rest of this entry

Bob Bailey: McGuinty, get off your high horse

Sarnia & Lambton County THIS WEEK
Queen’s Park Report with MPP Bob Bailey

 Better Late Then Never: OFA Calls for Wind Farm Moratorium

 The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), the largest representative of farm interests in Canada, is calling on the provincial government to immediately stop installing industrial wind turbines (IWT) in rural Ontario.

 Since the passage of the 2009 Green Energy Act, which stripped municipalities of local planning rights, countless communities across rural Ontario have been threatened by the McGuinty government’s push to install industrial wind farms, with no regard to local expertise or the concerns of residents.  These IWT developments have done more to turn neighbours and communities against one another than solve any of the problems of energy production in Ontario.

 In its call for the moratorium, the OFA cites the high cost of power produced by turbines, its inability to be stored, and the fact that it can’t be effectively transmitted to areas of high demand as just some of the reasons to stop the senseless expansion of IWTs across rural Southwestern Ontario.  But far and away the most troubling outcome of IWTs in our rural communities is this issue’s tendency to divide and polarize long time friends and neighbours.  These concerns over health impacts, negatively affected property values and quality of life issues are not being seriously considered by the McGuinty government. These issues weigh heavily on the minds of many rural residents and are causing serious problems in our rural communities. In his statement, OFA President Mark Wales says that these projects have “alienated the rural population” as “neighbours are pitted against neighbours.”

 Last April, in the Legislature, I demanded that Premier McGuinty get off his high horse and explain why his government is choosing to ignore the voices and concerns of rural Ontario communities by jamming through his unproven and unwanted wind farms. Countless communities across our province have watched helplessly as the McGuinty Government pushes to install more industrial wind farms whenever and wherever he wants, with no regard to local expertise or the concerns of residents.  It is my hope that more organizations, like the OFA, will take a stand and let Premier McGuinty know that it is local residents that know best when it comes to making decisions regarding their communities.

2012 Pre-Budget Consultations

Along with neighbouring Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton, I will be hosting pre-budget consultations regarding the 2012 Provincial Budget later this month. MPP McNaughton and I saw the need to schedule these meetings after the decision by the McGuinty Government to host “virtual town halls” using “modern technology” rather than the traditional in-person public hearings held annually across the province. Read the rest of this entry

The pics that wind reps DON’T show farmers….(this is Zephyr)

So this is the Brooke-Alvisnton Zephyr project from the air yesterday. I’m just looking at al those tracks across the fields — were they crop touring , or what? Why even have roads and lanes if they don’t use them? Nice and gentle onthat land, eh?

Then imagine you are driving a tractor— you used to have a straight field to plow, but now you are wheeling around the lanes and towers; your field is all cut up into triangles and squares. Be sure to calculate in the extra time and fuel to plant, plough and harvest this field.

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Wind Action Group issues warnings

Property values and health effects of turbines to be discussed

By Heather Wright  Sarnia this Week    February 7, 2012

Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group wants people in Lambton Shores to be aware of what they’re facing as industrial wind turbines begin to dot the landscape.

The group is holding a public meeting Thurs. Feb. 16 at the Grand Bend Public School to talk about the effects of turbines on human health, real estate values and local wildlife.

Lambton Shores will soon be a hotbed for wind energy. The largest project by NextEra Energy will put 92 turbines near the Lake Huron shoreline around Forest, Thedford, and Arkona.

Under the Green Energy Act, municipalities have very little control of the power projects. Groups like the Middlesex Lambton Wind Action have filed appeals to stop some of the projects in the province, so far without success.

So Muriel Allingham of the local Wind Action Group wants to prepare people for some of the possible problems associated with the turbines.

Allingham says the scope of the industrial wind farms which are coming to Lambton Shores is “unbelievable. The amount of focus on Lambton Shores is quite heavy and its going to completely change the landscape,” she says. Read the rest of this entry

Wind protesters stand their ground near Watford

By Cathy Dobson The Observer Feb 7th 2012 

BROOKE-ALVINSTON — About 40 protesters rallied along a muddy rural road Tuesday where four wind turbines are under construction in an open farm field.

“This is our community, this is our home. We will push it as far as we can push it,” said organizer Marcelle Brooks, holding a sign saying “McGuinty is not listening.”

“If that means we will be standing in front of a bulldozer, that’s where we’ll be,” she said.

Members of the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group (WAG) staged the protest to demonstrate against the $22-million, 10-MW project near Watford on Ebenezer Road and Churchill Line.

WAG has been a vocal opponent during the entire planning process and has appealed the Ontario Ministry of Environment’s approval of the project known as the Zephyr Wind Farm. A hearing is set for Feb. 21 in Alvinston.

“It’s an atrocity,” said Jill MacInnis, who lives about two kilometres west of the site.

She is concerned about the wind farm’s effects on human health, as well as its impact on birds and animals.

“This is a pre-staging ground for 300 to 400 tundra swans that come every year, and six different hawk species and bald eagles,” said MacInnis. Read the rest of this entry

OFA looking out for property owners “suffering in silence”

Jan 31, 2012  Kincardine News

Dear Editor,
The OFA recently called for a suspension of FIT contracts until the noise and electrical issues of wind turbines are settled (good on them).

Further the OFA is very concerned about the community strife that these projects are causing, pitting neighbour against neighbour. As the statement says, “We are hearing very clearly from our members that the wind turbine situation is coming to a head -seriously dividing rural communities and even jeopardizing farm succession planning.”

So, the OFA, Liberal red to the core has abruptly thrown down the gauntlet and the Liberal caucus had no plan for war with its last ally in rural Ontario. What really made the OFA do this?

Besides the obvious panic that renewals might not be forthcoming, I found this comment by a local farmer both interesting and very believable. A small news item was announced 2 days before the OFA proclamation last week: a lawsuit by John and Sylvia Wiggins, who own a horse farm near Stayner. They are suing their neighbour who is the host landowner for a wind project of 6 turbines. Last summer they listed their 48 acres for $1.15 million and though initial interest was intense, buyers disappeared after the wind farm was announced. They are suing the wind company, WPD and the host landowner for $3.5 million for lost value. This is the first time a landowner has been named in a civil suit involving wind turbines. It was bound to happen.

There is case law to support the position, one being a situation back in the 1980’s where neighbours of a go-kart track in Niagara Falls successfully sued the landowner of the track. Their claim of loss of property value was accepted by the court. If the Wiggins are successful it would open the flood-gates to more lawsuits. Given the obvious visual (nuisance) impact of wind turbines, I’d say there is a high likelihood they will win.

The farmer said there is a real danger of “spill-over” effect. A win may provoke challenges against current farming practices based on noise, odour, view, whatever.

That’s something that all rural residents had better think carefully about. The OFA already is, and they are spooked.

Meanwhile, our dim-witted government insists that we rural residents are quite happy to accept wind turbines, “…for the greater good of society.” Like H… we are -suffer in silence so some comfy condo dweller can mitigate his urban guilt. NO!

Harvey Wrightman Kerwood