FYI – S-T-O-P = Smithville Turbine Opposition Party and S.T.O.P = Saugeen Shores Turbine Operation Policy
SAUGEEN SHORES –
Because “secrecy breeds mistrust,” Saugeen Shores Coun. John Rich wants “openness and transparency” from officials with the Ministry of Environment (MOE), and UNIFOR (formerly CAW), concerning previously undisclosed noise test results that “appear to reveal” the union’s Port Elgin industrial wind turbine has operated out of compliance with provincial noise regulations.
Through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, Saugeen Shores Turbine Operation Policy (S.T.O.P) received data detailing 300 complaint-driven observations of noise emissions from the CAW/UNIFOR turbine. The Town’s Notice of Motion said “these observations appear to reveal several incidents where noise emissions from the UNIFOR turbine exceeded the noise standards set by the the MOE.. .which have not been previously disclosed either to the Town of the public at large.” The majority of complaints dealt with sleep disturbance, but also included reports of headaches, nausea, vertigo and other health-related issues.
S.T.O.P spokesman Greg Schmalz brought the information to Council in September at a community forum, and after a review of the data, Saugeen Shores Deputy-Mayor Luke Charbonneau, and Councillors John Rich and Mike Myatt, tabled a Notice of Motion at the Dec. 14 Council meeting to invite CAW/UNIFOR and the MOE to “share and review” the data at a meeting with the Town and S.T.O.P.
Regardless of support or opposition to wind energy, Coun. Rich said “you have to be in support of openness and transparency” by the MOE and CAW/UNIFOR, because “secrecy breeds mistrust.”
“What we want to see is more openness and opportunity for everyone to have discussion. If there is no problem, there is no issue, then things go the way they are. But if there is a problem, then it must be addressed at that time, but I think it’s important that we add a little sunlight to this and make sure we know what’s going on,” Rich said.
Deputy-Mayor Charbonneau said the “real nub” of their Motion is the existence of the FOI documents that “indicate, or at least gives the appearance, that the CAW/UNIFOR turbine has been operating in exceedence [sic] of its noise limits.”
He said that although the MOE required, and CAW/UNIFOR promised, third-party testing to verify turbine operation compliance, it is “concerning” that they have no evidence, and hopes the meeting will get the parties together to determine if the turbine is operating within the provincial guidelines.
Mayor Mike Smith recounted how CAW/UNIFOR had refused a past Town request for the resources to have independent testing done, and said there’s been no contact between the Town and CAW/UNIFOR for several years.
Speaking during the regular open forum prior to the Dec. 14 Council meeting, Schmalz said if the requested meeting occurs, S.T.O.P. will make “simple and reasonable” requests to address the main complaint of sleepless nights by shutting down the turbine from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.