The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change assured the people of Ontario that its green energy program and approval of industrial-scale wind turbine projects to generate power would be delivered with appropriate regulation and follow-up processes to ensure safety and to protect health.
However, tracking of complaints reveals that there is no indication of resolution of cases, for the most part.
There is absolutely no indication that the Ministry took the complaints seriously, and took any steps to review and revise existing regulations and processes based on the real-life experiences of the people of Ontario.
People continued to register reports of excessive noise and sensation, but in many cases, they gave up — “When is something going to be done?” — and stopped calling. The Ministry response in those cases was simply to close the files. That was no indication that there had been any sort of resolution for the individuals and families who reported problems.
The multiple reports released by the Ministry indicate that the complaint reporting process is deeply flawed and that the Ministry and government have not lived up to their promises to protect health.
The people of Ontario persist in wanting a resolution. As the Medical Officer of Health for Grey-Bruce stated in a meeting that “To dismiss all these people as eccentric, unusual, or as hyper-sensitive social outliers, does a disservice to constructive public discourse,” she told her Health Board. Dr. Hazel Lynn concluded “we cannot pretend that an affected minority does not exist”.19 Dr. Lynn and associate Dr. Ian Arra conducted a literature review that concluded it was impossible not to find an association between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.
The complaints of excessive noise and vibration in Huron County, Ontario, were so numerous that the Health Unit there has undertaken a public health investigation under the jurisdiction of the Health Protection and Promotion Act in Ontario, which is being launched in the spring of 2017.
Community groups and municipalities are now filling the gap left by the provincial government by undertaking their own noise testing; some are considering tracking the full range of noise emissions and are using private contractors to employ technology more sophisticated and with greater capacity than that provided to MOECC staff.
On November 28, 2016, Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault announced to a luncheon audience in downtown Toronto, hours away from the nearest wind turbine project, that his government had made mistakes with its push toward renewables, including wind power. The decisions made were often “arbitrary,” he said, leading to “sub-optimal siting” and heightened community concerns.22
That “sub-optimal siting” has resulted in real hardship for some of Ontario’s rural residents who had huge power projects forced upon them and their quiet communities. It is time for the government to address the shortcomings of its green energy program, specifically the highly invasive wind power developments.
Despite the problems acknowledged by the Minister and the many complaints that the MOECC has received, the Ministry confirmed through an EBR posting on March 2, 2017 that the Technical Guide for Renewable Energy Approvals did not need significant changes. This was despite lengthy comments in the fall of 2016 from Wind Concerns Ontario and others that extensive changes were required due to the level of complaints being received by the MOECC. The final document posted contains no new direction on the setback requirements for residents from wind turbines, nor any adjustment to the 40 dB(A) noise levels that complaints indicate are not sufficient to protect residents living among wind turbines from adverse conditions.