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Letter to Mark Patterson, Minister of Natural Resources


February 6, 2009

Mr. Mark Patterson
Ministry of Natural Resources
50 Bloomington Road West
Aurora, Ontario
L4G 3G8

E-mail: mark.patterson@ontario.ca

Dear Mark,

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me yesterday re the Toronto Hydro pending application to MNR for permission to mount an anemometer in Lake Ontario beside the pristine Scarborough Bluffs.

This is a difficult situation for our community, which has been thrust pell-mell into a one-sided discussion, as it turns out, with tremendous amounts of self-education (which thankfully is abundant) and outreach to Toronto Hydro, which has met with certain roadblocks. I know you are in receipt of Brenda Fawcett’s and my letter to David Miller and David O’Brien, neither of whom has had, we suppose, the time to reply at the time of this writing. That letter, as you know contained an expression of our community frustration at the lack of fair process in the “community consultation” process required to be followed in law and fair practice by Toronto Hydro Energy Services.  It also contained information on some apparent flaws in the proponent’s desire to present industrial wind as “green.”

Firstly, I appreciate very much your candid discussion with me yesterday regarding the application to your Ministry for the placement of the anemometer, and various “angles” that come into play with this proposed application.  You are not only “reachable” by phone, but very responsive, I feel, to questions and concerns from us as a community. 

To this end, I want to inform you again of the grave concerns that Guildwood Village has with respect to this proposed inappropriate placement of the anemometer, as well as the completely biased and unfair consultative process which, I understand, does not meet The City of Toronto Act standards and requirements.

To sum this up: Toronto Hydro’s first meeting was cancelled due to lack of space for interested community members. It’s second meeting was highly “stacked” with outside forces, such as the Steelworkers Union, for example, and other agencies receiving monies from the city of Toronto, and community members left to stand in a line for up to three hours, and many (several hundred) leaving in disgust.

The third meeting had apparently highly improper and irregular notification to community members, with a span of 10-15 days tie-ups with the mail, and convoluted registration processes, as well as a muzzling of the community who had to compact their questions and discussions into “one minute.”  The details of this will have reached your office by now, I am confident.  This last meeting did not involve “consulting” the community in any manner or fashion whatsoever, and it was fairly unanimous that this did not for us constitute a community consultation, in any manner.  Further, the typist who was documenting questions and commentary abbreviated those, or truncated them, as many remarked, while Hydro replies were on the screen in detail, albeit canned and subsequently derided by the public. I mention in particular the recording inadequacies at this third attempt at a meeting, because the second meeting included full taping and I believe video recording of the entire “loaded” event. This, we could reasonably suppose, was to augment and support any documentation that might reach your desk in the favour of Toronto Hydro. Additionally at the second meeting, the buses of infiltrated Hydro supporters were guided somewhat aggressively, in my view, to the mikes and actually on many occasions were “given” questions and statements to read during the evening. Some of these speakers were very young, and I doubt held their opinions entirely innocently nor in an informed manner. This was offensive to me as a teacher.

In the third attempt at community consultation, many of the most important questions from local physicians and business people or retirees were ignored, or shuffled to the back, never to be responded to. When pressed, Toronto Hydro indicated they would post these additional questions on their web site, but to date they have not done so. 

Guildwood is extremely dismayed and disappointed about these events. Fairness and openness are essential to any democratic process.  This was to be a process that would involve a community in supplying it with information and transparent dialogue on the proposal to house a foreign structure in the waters of the Lake, a structure that would certainly disrupt the lake bed and spawning grounds, and impact on bat populations for up to two years. This is no light matter. There are ecological and natural significances even for the anemometer (and of course the ubiquitous implications of a possible massive turbine installation some 40 stories high, are of physical and psychological significance, too).  We are informed by Transport Canada that even the placement of the anemometer will in “all likelihood” require FULL environmental review, as well as dense and detailed approvals from Aviation, Fisheries and National Water Protection Act, Environment Canada and provincial environmental agencies as well as local conservation bodies.   These are not small insignificant endeavours.

As for the community, suspicions are necessarily on high alert, when the Helimax Report has already clearly indicated that the Scarborough Bluffs is one of the LEAST favourable placements for a wind turbine installation. 

No logic applies in any form with this application, nor with its placement on a marine shelf, surrounded by native species that in turn provide sustenance for birds, nesting and migratory.  No testing of the stability of the shelf has been conducted.  No environmental assessment for bats has been conducted, although we all know there are nesting and migratory bats in large numbers at this site (federal jurisdiction, birds being provincial), and the very life of the planet depends on mitigating or preventing damage to these systems.  This is certainly NOT a scenario where an “in-house” environmental assessment by the proponent could possibly suffice.  

We are again requesting that this application for the anemometer be denied.  It follows no outer or inner logic, as this is NOT a recommended siting for a wind turbine installation, and testing for wind at a cost to the taxpayers of well over $1 million for an “un-recommended” site, seems to be very bad logic, especially in these times of fiscal restraint.   Why would this community, or any, accept the anemometer, its site having been designated as unsuitable, at a very large price from the public pocket? Why would any community risk damage to a delicate eco-system, when there are apparently zero rewards in terms of economics, commerce, OR carbon footprint reduction?  Nothing makes sense here.

But we would also ask you and others respectfully to not redirect our thoughts to JUST THE ANEMOMETER. It’s a bit like saying “It’s only a bulldozer or a shovel, we can’t talk about what the building will look like or its function, or how much damage it will do.”  This line of truncated thought is just not cogent, as you and I discussed.  There cannot be a severing of the function and form of the ENTIRE exercise.  To assess plausibility (the anemometer) of a function, wind power, we need to by agreement  understand the possible next steps.  They are inextricably linked. The intension is linked to the exploration. You put a ship on the seas, you expect to go somewhere.  Again, the attempt to put this one over on the community, without expression of next steps, since there clearly is NOT enough wind power at this site, is somewhat frightening. Who is making this decision to proceed with a commercial venture that appears doomed from the start? And who is responsible for the subsequent attempts to block the natural flow of ideas and associations that would allow a community to protect its population, and for us that includes our own health, surrounding natural life, even the aquatic shelf and the physics of the Bluffs, for generations beset by problems of excessive erosion. One really has to wonder where this all has come from, and because of the lack of clarity of thought initially, where would it all end? Would this end up like the CNE turbine, “orphaned and dying”? The project does not appear to have fiscal responsibility at its heart.  This leaves a community left to its own devices to defend and protect not only the public purse, but also the very “green” that the proponents are ironically promoting: or is their proposal  “green washing?”

We were told by a scientist in Washington that of course you will have to study the stability of the shelf, before the placement of anything in the lake.  This has not been done, and for the MNR to allow this premature placement without these studies, would surely be not in the best interest of Canada, which fortunately is home to some of the best and most vast reserves of fresh water in the world, as well as the abundant aquatic and bird life that call this Lake Ontario home. The sea bed is crown land, and it is your opportunity to protect this. This, it seems, would be the first order your office must surely have: protection and management of resources, not apparently dubious (at best) commercial interests, at the centre of the MNR mandate.  Surely it would be within the
scope of the MNR to assess entire feasibility of projects, not to carve off and isolate various “sections” of the intent, in order to facilitate industry.

But the bottom line here is that despite three feeble attempts by Hydro to consult, there has not to date been a consultation of the community. The efforts that were in place, I would suggest, are fraudulent, and must not be counted in the tally of efforts Toronto Hydro must place before you for your consideration in this incredibly important matter.

Also germane to the issue is the fact that Toronto Hydro officials have apparently misconstrued, inflated comparisons, or dismissed us with  reasons to “not” communicate effectively, hiding under the canned phrases of “commercially sensitive”, or telling the public that there are no fish in lake Ontario, because one of their officials has not seen any from a boat.  There was one bird killed at the CNE turbine, no, it was two. And the community is told repeatedly that the bird study took “one year”, while the actual bird study suggests something in the line of 4-6 weeks, sectioned into two time frames, just ending as true migration began, as a concerned member from FLAP (Fatal Light Awareness Program) told me on the phone.   These statements are not only insulting: they are, in my view, chicanery.

Toronto Hydro is “compelled” to consult. They have not done so. They have apparently disguised, in the view of the community, the truth with false comparisons and misleading facts on wind power.  Often, the apparent lack of ability to communicate and process effective information for and with the community on some rather important matters for Lake Ontario appeared to be nonsensical!   Toronto Hydro has apparently over some time now misguided the public, and in full apparent knowledge of doing so, to promote commercial interests that are have not been proven. I am sorry to say, but from the research that many of us have done, much of what Toronto Hydro purports does not appear to be true at all! Additionally, Toronto Hydro refuses, and I do mean refuses, to discuss any suitable measurement of wind that would suggest a viable commercial endeavour! Why?

To allow the application for the anemometer to proceed, poised as it is between these very serious chasms of reality and lack of basic justice and fair play for a community, will be extremely problematic for all concerned. I know from our discussion that you have a sense of fairness and openness.  We look forward to hearing from you concerning the cancellation of this application due to lack of fair process and irregular procedure. The community consultation has not taken place.

Thank you, once again, for speaking with me yesterday.

Respectfully yours,

 

Sherri Lange

CC: Honourable Member Donna Cansfield
CC: Mayor David Miller
CC: David O’Brien
CC: interested community members
CC: Prime Minister Steven Harper



Letter to David OBrien and Mayor David Miller

Letter to David O’Brien
Toronto Hydro Corporation
14 Carlton Street
Toronto, Ontario
M5B 1K5

 Mayor David Miller
Toronto City Hall, 2nd Floor,
100 Queen St. West,
Toronto, Ontario
 M5H 2N2

Delivered by e-mail and registered mail

January 26, 2009

Dear Mr. O’Brien and Mayor Miller,

We are writing to you to express deep concern over the public consultations held in Guildwood by Toronto Hydro recently.  There are numerous problems that relate to ethics, procedure, and public trust as well as what we would term misrepresentations of industrial wind implications.  It would appear that the City of Toronto and Toronto Hydro Energy Services have accepted compromises with respect to the environment (as well as other issues) that do not mesh with many community standards in the GTA, and certainly not with Guildwood Village.

We note that large numbers of Canadian citizens are becoming extremely knowledgeable about wind power and its deficiencies, and about our governments’ participation in the industrial corporate alliance which proposes to mitigate climate change; but this governance is now in direct opposition to the people it serves and represents.  These are deep and problematic ethical issues, which have been, in our view, parlayed into an attempt to confuse a community both with “Hydro facts” as we call them, and with procedural mayhem.

We would like to point out several of these “confusions” and misrepresentations, which are in our view egregious.

On August 8th, 2008, information re the placement of an anemometer was placed in local papers, requesting response to MNR by September 12, 2008, the middle of the summer, when most people are away on holidays. There was no information forthcoming from the councillor on this proposal prior to its appearance in the newspapers.

A five-page document dated October, 2008, “Proposed Toronto Hydro Lake Ontario Anemometer Frequently Asked Questions," was   mailed to interested parties. This document stated that this project would not be in Toronto’s west end due to "calming effects of Humber Bay". We have discovered according to Canadian Wind Atlas that the winds are actually greater in the west, i.e., Humber Bay area, than in Guildwood.

On October 27, 2008, a community meeting venue at Christ Church on Markham Road proved to be too small, with several hundred people left out in the rain. This was not one of the suggested venues from Councillor Ainslie or involved community members. This meeting was postponed at the suggestion of an outraged resident.

On November 24, 2008, another community meeting was held at Wilfrid Laurier Collegiate.  Supporters of Toronto Hydro and industrial wind turbines were bussed in from around City. There were Toronto Hydro sign-in sheets on those buses. This meeting was erroneously labelled a Community Consultation, and several hundred local residents could not enter the hall. Microphone line-ups were stacked with Hydro supporters, and community members had to wait up to three hours to speak. Numerous residents left in disgust as they could not stand in a line that long.  More residents could not tolerate the bullying tactics and left. Indeed this meeting truly cannot be seen as “community consultation” as the community perceives that it was blocked from meaningful discussion.  We feel that much data provided by Hydro in a report to MNR from this “loaded” meeting, would be misleading and biased.

Additionally, at this meeting, one question addressed to Joyce McLean re the suitability of this location for the project was answered by making a comparison with Cleveland and Copenhagen.  These projects are in the water, but are NOT comparables.  Officials from Hydro consistently offer information that is either erroneous or badly misrepresented. This is only ONE example of this, of many.

  • Cleveland has not been approved; however, it is proposing 2-10 turbines, 75-90 metres tall, 5.5 km offshore from "abandoned buildings and warehouses".
  • Copenhagen has 20 turbines sited 2 - 3.5 km offshore from an industrial downtown area. 
  • The wind potential at both of these sites far exceeds the wind potential off the Scarborough Bluffs.
  • Toronto Hydro is proposing 60-100, 120 metre tall turbines, 2 km offshore of a natural heritage site which abuts a highly populated residential area.

 Is this comparable?  This kind of misleading comparison obfuscates the reasonableness of this project and injects fear and confusion into the community.
 
Another example of misrepresentation also comes from Joyce McLean on the same evening. “Denmark is a leader in Wind turbine technology,” and according to Joyce McLean, Denmark is leading edge and provides a good model for Toronto Hydro’s proposal.

Is Toronto Hydro aware of Denmark's criteria for siting of turbines, specifically:

The location must have:

  • good wind potential
  • no other stakeholders who have  great interest in area (shipping and leisure)                                
  • no environmental issues (birds, fish issues, visual impact)
  • Furthermore, Denmark recommends that  offshore wind turbines should be located at least 10 km from Heritage Sites.
  • Denmark has stopped all wind energy installations nearshore.

These false comparisons do nothing to instil confidence in Toronto Hydro’s proposal and information gathering with our community.

It should be noted that additionally, in City of Toronto Committee minutes, a reference is made that siting turbines near to any parklands "could detract from park users’ enjoyment."  It seems completely contradictory that people who might occasionally frequent a city park, must, according to the city, be protected, but residents who may spend their entire lives under one of these behemoth turbines will receive little if any protection from the same city.
  
It should also be noted, the proposed Toronto Hydro development, by definition is not offshore but nearshore. "Nearshore turbine installation is within 10 km. of land."

All of the data that is available on wind turbine development is based on offshore installations.

Again, there is absolutely no data to substantiate Toronto Hydro's assurances that this turbine proposal will have no impact on the local residents. How does Toronto Hydro conclude that their proposal would be acceptable using Danish criteria? Very real questions, which the community has not yet had answered, even in part. The City of Toronto needs to ensure that its citizens are not put in harm’s way.

Statements related to job creation (several buses arrived with Steelworkers Union representatives), were energetic and loquacious. However,

The other half, and the biggest job creator, is increasing efficiency—revamping buildings, cars, and appliances as well as improving transit, waste, and water infrastructure. Take the building sector (please)—it accounts for 39 percent of US carbon emissions.

Driving up its energy efficiency may be the fastest and most cost-effective way to reduce emissions; by one estimate, 75 percent of buildings stand to be replaced or substantially rehabbed over the next 25 years.

According to architect Edward Mazria, investing about $20 billion in building energy efficiency would save consumers $8.46 billion in energy bills annually (a less than three-year payback), replace 22 coal-fired power plants, reduce annual CO2 emissions by the equivalent of taking almost 16 million cars off the road for a year—and create more than 200,000 new jobs.

 http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2008/11/the-truth-about-green-jobs.html

The turbines for this Bluffs proposal would “likely, most likely” come from Denmark or Texas, and the maintenance and repair teams would need to be highly skilled personnel, and training is crucial to expensive repairs. In the US, training is sadly behind the scope of projects. We can assume this would be the same in Canada.

… it's an unintended consequence of the booming wind industry in the United States: a new survey by Frontier Pro Services, reported on at Renewable Energy World, says that 60% of US wind turbines may be behind on maintenance. Apparently, there simply aren’t enough qualified technicians to do the work.

According to the findings, many wind farm operations and maintenance teams are so resource constrained that they are barely able to keep up with the unscheduled maintenance repairs their wind turbines require to continue generating electricity.

Even regular, scheduled preventative-maintenance like oil changes and gearbox lubrication (services that are often still under warranty) are falling behind as manufacturers face similar resource struggles related to the shortage of qualified personnel.

Lack of Maintenance Leads to Costly Repairs

The main component causing downtime for turbines is the gearbox, which if it fails can cost 15-20% of the price of the turbine to replace. Furthermore, failure to monitor and replace oil as needed can lead to wear on bearing and gears, causing greater financial loses than simply replacing the part.

Frontier says that "when a $1,500 bearing fails unnoticed, it can lead to production loss and revenue loss including an unscheduled replacement of a $100,000 dollar gearbox and an unscheduled crane cost of up to $70,000 to access the failed components." 

  Gearbox failures account for the largest amount of turbine downtime, and lost production capacity, “usually totalling 15-20% of the price of the turbine. Most of this gearbox malfunction is due to lack of proper lubrication and lack of routine maintenance.” http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/09/60-percent-united-states-wind-turbines-behind-on-maintenance.php

Despite the training and maintenance required as the wind industry promotes projects in Ontario, many more jobs are created by alternative energy plans, as noted by the carbon savings and job creations in the energy efficiency programs. If we are serious about climate change issues, there are clearer, less expensive, paths to carbon reduction.

Additionally, one community member repeatedly asked about the cost of the construction of the turbines, a question that has been asked of Hydro by herself over the months. Unfortunately, Hydro officials declined to adequately respond, and she was forced to do her own calculations.
Wolfe Island is the latest development, this is on land and for each 2MW Wind turbine, the cost is approximately $4.5 million per turbine, according to the developer’s website.
  In water turbines are 50% -100% more expensive. Therefore a 2MW offshore turbine would conservatively cost $7million to install.   Therefore for each TH proposed turbine  of 2MW capacity, the following could be reasonably assumed:Assuming energy production is similar to historical output (approx. 18%) of OPG's Pickering turbine (which is higher than the CNE’s 12%)  and energy production  payments similar to OPA’s existing standard offer program, it would take in excess of 20 years to pay off the initial capital  costs associated with an offshore turbine project along the Toronto waterfront.  This does not take into account the cost of financing, interest or maintenance.

For the January 20th, 2009 meeting, the community asked for the meeting to be delayed until more notice was provided and all residents could attend. As much as 15-20% of the community members are away until spring, and many other elderly residents have difficulty getting out in icy weather. The date was also carefully selected, we feel, to maximize press coverage for the inauguration of President Obama, and the ensuing press coverage of that event the next day, and to minimize public press on the Guildwood Community Consultation.  This was duly noted by all.

Additionally, we were informed by each other, not Hydro, that the meeting would take place January 20th, and that we could expect mail to arrive. We daily checked, and although these notices that looked like junk mail finally arrived on January 13th, with a deadline to register by the 15th, with many residents not in receipt at all, they were dated January 2nd. There was inordinate difficulty and convolution around the registration process itself, with at least five attempts by phone and e-mail being necessary for many.  The response from Hydro by e-mail to confirm ended up in spam folders and had to be searched for. There were only 2 persons allowed to register from each household, although many households would have up to five or six capable and interested persons. One resident had to submit THREE cards in order to speak. The moderator apparently had difficulty shuffling his speaking requests.  Residents were also allotted only one minute each, despite having waited three hours at the last meeting, and this having been the third attempt for residents to speak and reflect on the issues.   There were no tangible efforts to tamp down free speech at the November meeting when supporters were speaking. Some wind supporters were allowed to go on for five minutes.  Clearly our community was being bridled by this confining process. 

At this meeting, Hydro would not consider material that is not peer reviewed. Several doctors in the auditorium with health concerns for residents of Guildwood were aghast.  We would point out that Toronto Hydro’s rather glib and canned responses have not been “peer reviewed” either!

At this same meeting, Joyce McLean stated that studies indicate property values may rise, citing a report from the USA,   “because people want to live near green energy source.”  “We are unable to find any studies that look at the potential impact of wind turbine installation on urban property values.” It is well known that property values in affected urban or residential countryside areas take a direct hit due to wind installations. Please let us know if you wish more information. It is readily available. Again, on such a simple issue as property values, there is no recognition by Ms. McLean of the problem, just denial. 

Repeatedly, Joyce McLean issued forth about bird kills and mentioned to audiences at both attempts to consult the community, that at the CNE turbine experiment, one bird mortality had been noted, then shortly thereafter on Steve Paikin’s TVO program, “The Agenda,  it was two birds that were killed. It is also known to us that this study was terminated just before migration began.  We would also point out to Hydro that:

Ten thousand cumulative bird deaths [87] from 1,731 MW of installed U.S. capacity are the equivalent of 4.4 million bird deaths across the entire capacity of the U.S. electricity market (approximately 770 GW). A 20 percent share of U.S. capacity, a figure that the American Wind Energy Association forwarded some years ago in congressional hearings (see above), would equate to 880,000 cumulative bird deaths. Calculated on an average operating capacity basis, the number would rise several fold.  Is wind power really a clean, effective method to reduce global warming? While wind turbines are non-polluting once they are up and running, the manufacture, transport and construction of a wind turbine produces thousands of tons of carbon based emissions. Every step from mining the ore to make the steel, moving parts by ship or overland and constructing access roads to running giant cranes and excavators creates emissions. Building the access roads alone produces nearly ten thousand tons of emissions.

The problem of mercury pollution associated with wind projects is rarely mentioned. However, it is a known fact among environmental experts that the production of cement produces large amounts of mercury released from the limestone used as the raw material, the median amount being 1.5 lbs. of mercury per ton of cement. Each turbine base requires over a million pounds of concrete –you do the math!

http://www.empirepage.com/2008/12/13/industrial-wind-turbines-for-new-york

These comments about significant bird kill numbers as well as the actual intense pollution created in manufacture, point to other realities than those posed by Toronto Hydro.

Many questions surrounded the efficiency of projects at Pickering (18%) and the CNE (12%). We were repeatedly told that the information was “commercially sensitive.” We do know that the turbine at the CNE has not been viable since day one. The Dutch company that built the turbine went bankrupt shortly thereafter, and it required numerous and expensive renovations ever since.  According to one shareholder, it is “orphaned and dying.”  This is hardly an example of “green energy” that is fiscally responsible, that Torontonians can point to with pride. This failed example calls for slow and extremely careful development of energy policies, and close scrutiny of costs to the taxpayers.

We are wondering, Mr. Mayor, where you were at this meeting, since you were invited and we had welcomed an open dialogue with you on these issues.  You have been placed in a position of trust by the citizenry of Toronto and were elevated to your position due to your interest in the enhancement and protection of Toronto’s waterfront areas. 
  
 Mr Mayor and David O’Brien, we want answers, and we want the immediate withdrawal of this heinous attempt to tarnish the truth with the public, undermine confidence in our democratic processes, and to denigrate one of Nature’s repositories of beauty and natural interaction. the Scarborough Bluffs.   This area is home and host to endangered species of many descriptions.  The community is founded on principles of heritage and protection, and we will not be persuaded by the pretences of “lack of information,” “disingenuous information,” and complete inability to provide even the most basic of rights, the community’s consultation process. 

We know that several industrial wind projects have been thwarted or impacted by bird and bat studies.  Even Hydro’s inability to assess this most intrinsic issue with respect to the January 20th meeting, speaks volumes.  The impact to the migratory routes in this area will likely be immense and long reaching.  The destruction to the wildlife and their “homes” may be immeasurable.   This area includes many ANSI’s. The money spent on beautification, parks, boat clubs, nature trails and recreation for Torontonians could easily be distant and undone. If this project were to proceed, it would be the first time anywhere in the world that a large industrial wind turbine project had been sited near shore in a fresh water lake that is this close to an Ontario Heritage Site and highly populated residential communities.

... the 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: The growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy. (Australian social scientist, quoted by Noam Chomsky in World Orders Old and New)

Guildwood, we feel, has been a direct recipient of this process of corporate propaganda.

Most importantly, the apparent disrespect shown to this community in the consultation phase impresses us with the fact that Toronto Hydro is not up to speed on environmental, health or cost issues, and appears to have had no ability to consult whatsoever.  The confidence that they could lead in any other respectable and honest renewable energy is certainly lost on us.

One of the cornerstones of any great city relates to its celebration and display of unique character. We have contacted UNESCO in Paris, France.  They have confirmed that the criteria of the Scarborough Bluffs meet the requirements for designation of a Natural World Heritage Site.  We must not allow this potential denigration of beauty and human interaction with nature, not in this lifetime, not in any lifetime.   

Until the full scope of any potential project has been properly assessed and considered, we believe that the immediate withdrawal of the application to MNR for the anemometer is the only reasonable course of action. We further request a formal response to the concerns expressed here.

Sincerely yours,

Sherri Lange/Brenda Fawcett
Save the Toronto Bluffs

CC: Premier McGuinty, Premier of Ontario
CC: Minister Smitherman, Energy and Infrastructure
CC: Minister Cansfield, Natural Resources
CC: Minister Watson, Municipal Affairs and Housing
CC: Mr. Mark Patterson, Ministry of Natural Resources
CC: Prime Minister Steven Harper
CC: Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance
CC: Ave Lethbridge, Code of Ethics Officer, Toronto Hydro
CC: Clare Copeland, Chairman, Toronto Hydro BOD
CC: Mike Richmond, Toronto Hydro BOD
CC: Patricia Callon, Toronto Hydro BOD
CC: Bill Rupert, Toronto Hydro BOD
CC: Brian Chu, Toronto Hydro BOD
CC: Derek Cowbourne, Toronto Hydro BOD
CC: Paulette Kennedy, Toronto Hydro BOD
CC: Shoba Khetrapal, Toronto Hydro BOD
CC: Deputy Mayor Pantalone, Toronto Hydro BOD
CC: Councillor Perks, Toronto Hydro BOD
CC: Councillor Saundercook, Toronto Hydro BOD
CC: Chris Tyrrell, President, Toronto Hydro Energy Services
CC: Jack Simpson, Vice President Generation, Toronto Hydro Energy Services
CC: Joyce McLean, Strategic Issues, Toronto Hydro Corporation
CC: Councillor Ainslie, Ward 43 Councillor
CC: Councillor Ashton, Ward 36 Councillor
CC: Roy Wright, President Save the Toronto Bluffs
BCC: Concerned Citizens

 

Personal Stories

A plea from Barbara Ashbee-Lormand, Ontario Canada January 4, 2009 by Barbara Ashbee-Lormand

Barbara Ashbee-Lormand has written this plea to the Ontario Environment Minister, John Gerretsen, asking that he take a moment to understand the impacts of wind energy development on the people of Ontario.

To: Hon John Gerretsen

December 31st, 2008

Dear Sir,

I am writing this letter to urge you to put a hold on these wind farms, until your ministry does a lot more investigating.

I am hearing people in the industry say that there are no ill health effects and minimal noise is emitted. Well, come to my house Mr. Gerretsen. Stay here for at least a week, so you can experience the full array of noise and vibration level we have to live with. This sound changes with wind speed, blade direction and atmosphere, ranging from a constant irritating low hum/vibration, to a never ceasing jet flying overhead to sounding like the house has literally been dumped into a running washing machine. Try to function with minimal sleep, so disturbed, you find you are working in a mental fog. The windows are closed up tight this winter. Yes, this is winter, and yet we can hear the noise inside. Would you be able to entertain your guests or have a family barbecue on your back deck in the summer, with a tower of whooshing, gyrating noise just 450 or so meters behind you, sir? Maybe you could get used to the ringing in the ears that my husband now has to deal with.

Please don't suggest we move. Who is going to buy my house, standing in the middle of a wind farm with noises so loud you won't be able to sleep at night? If the wind comes from the east, not the west, then there is the one in the front to "soothe" you to sleep at night. Would you buy my house sir? I don't think so. There are laws in place to protect the buyer sir, where we would have to disclose any deficiencies regarding our property. This noise would definitely count and it is the right thing to do to let people know what they are getting into. It is called being ethical. Where was the disclosure from the company who put these turbines in so close to me? Why are there different laws for them?

This government is allowing something to take hold of the entire province, without full knowledge of the effects on people, and are letting these wind corporations run slipshod through this province like madmen.

Let me give you my own personal view of what seems to be going on with this process; Landowners/farmers are approached by energy corporations with offers of annual sums of money that may be very hard for a landowner/farmer to resist, and they tell them that this province needs green energy and what a wonderful contribution they are making, and they get them signed up. They do not knock on the door of the neighbouring non-participant landowner and give them the information that they need to decide if they can continue to live there. These homeowners really don't matter and they certainly don't want or need them slowing the process. They send a letter, and maybe a flyer. No need to register it. If it gets lost, well, what can you do? So, Mr. Farmer in the middle of the project doesn't want to participate?

Maybe they tell them how all of their wonderful neighbors' have been signed up to host windmills, and that if they don't, they will be surrounded by them anyway, so why miss out on the income everyone else is getting? But, they need to make a decision before it's too late. Then make sure they get that amendment to the official plan to allow renewable energy/windmills and reassure the township that they too will be receiving a generous sum of money annually that they can put to good use.

How am I doing so far? Well, looks like everything is in order now...let's have a meeting. It doesn't really matter what concerns or rights anyone has to their property, it will get talked around and maybe even a good old blank stare when answering.

What's that? Those turbines sites seem too close to you? Well, we're sorry but it is all compliant with the MOE, so please don't worry about it. If it's been approved by your government, then they know what's good for you.

And so they continue and they are erected. And my husband and I do our best to embrace the intention of the windmills, and watch with wonder as roads are built and huge trucks with police escorts deliver these wonderful pieces of environmental art. And then I look out my back window and I look out my front window and look how close they are and think Wow...they are really close. I hope they aren't too loud'. Perhaps I can put up with the drastic change to my view all around me for the sake of green energy. I want to help the country and the environment too. And then they start them up....

So what is it that you are complaining about? You can hear noise? We're sorry that it is bothering you. These new turbines don't make much noise. As a matter of fact, the Generation Development page of the Ontario Power Authority says, "Manufacturers of modern wind turbines have also reduced noise levels to that of a quiet whisper". A quiet whisper? Oh, please....

We're sorry they're keeping you awake we are told, but we can assure you we are compliant with the MOE, and they say this noise level is fine.

Well thank you for your insight, but knowing this doesn't help us get to sleep. And so they decide to do a noise study. Can we put you up at the nearest hotel so you can get some rest, we are asked? Thanks but no thanks. We are not willing to leave our pets and it is Christmas. Well, all we can do is offer. Can you please shut down one closest to us at night so we can at least get some sleep? Sorry, it is not within my authority to do that, we're told. How about that noise study? Let's get some measurements taken.

Gee....about half of the windmills were shut down when the attended readings were taken. There was little wind, and the ones that were running were facing due south, the least invasive direction to our home. Noise study is over. Please, can you just shut down that one windmill from 12am to 6am? Sorry, cannot do it. Do you smell a bully here Mr. Gerretsen?

You people have created this mess. It's time for our leaders to stop this ridiculous green charade, with these thugs traipsing through our townships and counties. How can you leave decisions like this up to small municipalities, who know nothing about wind farms and noise levels?

Why not take some time, read the reports on health issues, talk to the people, find out what is going on in your province. You should be ashamed at the way your citizens are being treated. What do you have to say to the people that have been pushed out of their homes? I am all for green energy my friend, but not at the expense of the well being of people. What can be so difficult about finding and purchasing vacant land area, making sure it's clear of homeowners and erecting these turbines where they aren't going to bother people, pets and livestock. Or at the very least, create realistic setbacks. What is going on is just insane.

With all due respect, please get your collective heads out of the sand and start investigating. Talk to everyone, not just the ones writing the letters, or the farmers that are happy to have an additional income, talk to the non participant homeowners, who may not know where to turn to or how to approach the issue.

How about talking to the farmers that feel they have been misled and are now without a voice, or the homeowners who find themselves in the middle of the farms with no input whatsoever. Chances are they afraid to speak, lest they lose everything they have worked for.

Yes sir that would be me; afraid to speak out because I can't live here anymore and no one is going to buy a bungalow in a wind farm. What am I supposed to do? Our retirement home is ruined, thank you very much. While you're at it, talk to the homeowners in the Ripley area. I hear things are pretty tough there. Don't ask me their names; I don't know them, because they are too afraid to speak out.

Not all of us are able, or feel free to speak up sir. Some of your constituents don't know which way to turn.

I thank you for your time and hope you can see past the whole goodness of green, and make the effort to investigate the other truths about wind farm energy. I am sure there must be other options to the placement of these farms. You have a wealth of knowledge in this province, and it is at your fingertips.

Sincerely,

Barbara Ashbee-Lormand
335498 7th Line Amaranth,
RR # 1, Shelburne,
Ontario L0N 1S5

Industrial wind development faces gale-force resistance across Ontario.

Twenty-two wind action groups representing thousands of concerned Ontario citizens have joined forces to create Wind Concerns Ontario. This province-wide coalition promotes awareness of the true impacts of industrial wind power facilities on our health, environment, economy and quality of life. more...


Calculating the Real Cost of Industrial Power

Keith Stelling of the Friends of Arran Lake has authored an excellent report on the cost of industrial wind. It is designed to inform us, the consumers of electricity, and it answers many critical questions about the problems industrial wind incurs. Please read and forward to anyone you know could benefit from this analysis. Letter is below, report is attached. Thank you! more...


Siting Wind Turbines To Prevent Health Risks 2008 (PDF 877KB)

A new source of community noise is spreading rapidly across the rural U.S. countryside. Industrial-scale wind turbines (WTi), a common sight in many European countries, are now actively promoted by federal and state governments in the U.S. as a way to reduce coal-powered electrical generation and global warming. The presence of industrial wind projects is expected to increase dramatically over the next few years, given the tax incentives and other economic more...

Files


11/16/2008 Renewable energy jobs economist (PDF)

11/19/2008 Land owner guide towindenergy (PDF)

11/19/2008 Wind turbines article by Palmer (PDF)

11/22/2008 Helimax analysis (PDF)

11/9/2008 Kamperman James Report (PDF)

11/9/2008 Wind cost report (PDF)

11/9/2008 How it will affect property prices (PDF) (PDF)

General


11/29/2008 Calculating The Real Coast

11/29/2008 Helimax Report

11/29/2008 The Hidden Cost

11/29/2008 Wind Concerns