May 27, 2016  The Times

Promising investigation into health impacts of industrial wind turbines halted after Medical Officer of Health was dismissed

Huron County hugs the shoreline of Lake Huron between Amberley and Grand Bend. At its centre is Goderich. The county reaches inland across mostly flat farmland about 75 kilometres. It is home to about 270 industrial wind turbines. Twice that many are planned.

As more turbines go up, more people complain the machines are affecting their health and the wellbeing of their children.

As the complaints piled up Huron County’s Medical Officer of Health (MOH) Dr. Janice Owen felt she had a duty to investigate. She had been appointed just a year earlier after considerable turmoil amid the governance and administration of that county’s Board of Health. That turmoil had ultimately led to the dismissal of Dr. Owen’s predecessor, Dr. Nancy Cameron.

Dr. Owen knew she was embarking on rough political waters when she began to propose a health investigation into complaints that industrial wind turbines were making some people sick. Several of the municipalities and councils share in the revenue from these projects. Furthermore, the Board of Health is composed exclusively of sitting council members and one former councillor.

So Dr. Owen was careful. She proceeded slowly—explaining every step to the board along the way. She told them that she was proposing an investigation—not a research study. It would look at complaints and determine if there was a public health issue. It would not look at causality. She explained that it was her legislatively-defined duty in response to the volume of complaints.

In February, Dr. Owen outlined her proposed investigation to the Board of Health. In March, she explained to the board the structure of the investigation before a crowded meeting. About 80 residents filled the 45 seats in the chamber and spilled outside.

In April, Dr. Owen was fired.

Tyler Hessel is chair of the Huron County Board of Health. He is also Mayor of Bluewater, one of the lowertier municipalities that form Huron County.

He confirmed to the London Free Press that the Huron County Board of Health and Dr. Owen had parted ways, “but everything is going to continue moving forward as usual,” he said.

Hessel said that Owen’s departure was unrelated to the wind farm issue and that work would be carried on by health unit staff according to the London Free Press account.

That was five weeks ago.


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