November 15, 2012
By Barb McKay
Professional engineer says reported impacts from wind turbines meet emergency criteria
A state of emergency will not be called in Kincardine to assist residents who have reported suffering health impacts from nearby wind energy developments.
Kincardine councillors were, at moments, apologetic as they explained to residents during last Wednesday’s meeting that they could not fulfill a request to declare a state of emergency in response to an increasing number of industrial wind turbines constructed within the municipality.
“When I joined municipal politics…never did I imagine the anxiety that would come to me from this issue,” said Jacqueline Faubert, adding that she loses sleep trying to find a solution that will help residents who live within wind energy developments.
But, Faubert said, she was informed that declaring a state of emergency was not an option. Mayor Larry Kraemer told a packed gallery that when a state of emergency is declared in Kincardine it essentially enacts the municipality’s emergency response plan and authorizes council to dedicate funds to disaster relief efforts.
“It does not enact municipal authority over provincial spending or provincial authority,” he said. “It does not provide any remedy to the people affected here.”
William Palmer, a professional engineer with a background in public risk assessment, brought a request to council hoping that a declaration would force the province to act and to provide funding to residents who have reported health effects that would enable them to finally leave their homes.
“It would send an extremely powerful statement to the province about what is happening here,” he said. “I’m pleading with you. It’s time for you to be a candle in the darkness.”
Palmer said he has been applying his experience and training as a professional engineer to learning about wind turbines and acoustics related to them. He has given presentations at international wind energy conferences around the world where members of the provincial government have attended, yet ironically, the municipality cannot get provincial representatives to come to Kincardine, Palmer said. He held up a list of 20 residents who live within the Enbridge wind project boundaries who have reported experiencing health effects. He said these people want to leave their homes but are unable to.
“People are trapped because they financially can’t walk away from their homes,” he said.
Kraemer said the most practical remedy may be for residents to take matters into their own hands.
“A class action lawsuit is the best thing to do, if you feel strongly enough about it,” he said. “You have enough people.”
From the gallery a man called out and asked if the municipality would foot the bill. Kraemer responded that there are taxpayers who are in favour of wind energy as well as those who are against it.
Councillor Jacqueline Faubert said that while it may not be possible to declare a state of emergency, simply making it known that residents are desperate enough to call for one may be enough to get the point across to the province. Council instructed staff to draft a letter that will be sent to Premier Dalton McGuinty, OPA, Grey Bruce Public Health and others outlining the request that came to it from residents.