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Saugeen Shores council considering joining multi-municipal coalition for noise regulation

After raising funds and attaining legal advice, the coalition is confident it has come up with a strategy to regulate noise produced by turbines. Currently, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) is allowing 40 to 51 dBA and in a rural area it's 20 to 25 dBA for ambient noise at night time.

In an effort to control the regulation of industrial wind turbines, Saugeen Shores council is considering involvement in a multi-municipal coalition on noise regulation.

Warren Howard of North Perth and spokesperson for the Kincardine based coalition went before councillors at Monday's committee-of-the-whole meeting with the group's proposal.

"[The coalition] is a community group who is in the process of transitioning itself into a municipal group," Howard explained.

After raising funds and attaining legal advice, the coalition is confident it has come up with a strategy to regulate noise produced by turbines.

"Planning powers are gone, but municipal act powers, health, safety and well being, regularly public nuisance, noise vibration, odour and dust remain," he explained.

Currently, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) is allowing 40 to 51 dBA and in a rural area it's 20 to 25 dBA for ambient noise at night time.

"As councillors, you are fairly familiar with noise coming off of green energy projects," Howard said. "The municipal act allows us the opportunities to regulate noise sources."

Quoting the Municipal Act, Howard said... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

In an effort to control the regulation of industrial wind turbines, Saugeen Shores council is considering involvement in a multi-municipal coalition on noise regulation.

Warren Howard of North Perth and spokesperson for the Kincardine based coalition went before councillors at Monday's committee-of-the-whole meeting with the group's proposal.

"[The coalition] is a community group who is in the process of transitioning itself into a municipal group," Howard explained.

After raising funds and attaining legal advice, the coalition is confident it has come up with a strategy to regulate noise produced by turbines.

"Planning powers are gone, but municipal act powers, health, safety and well being, regularly public nuisance, noise vibration, odour and dust remain," he explained.

Currently, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) is allowing 40 to 51 dBA and in a rural area it's 20 to 25 dBA for ambient noise at night time.

"As councillors, you are fairly familiar with noise coming off of green energy projects," Howard said. "The municipal act allows us the opportunities to regulate noise sources."

Quoting the Municipal Act, Howard said as long as a municipality enforces a public nuisance bylaw in good faith, it is not supposed to be challenged.

That said, there are limits on municipal powers.

"You cannot pass a bylaw that's in legal conflict with provincial law," he said.

A legal conflict exists if by obeying the municipal bylaw, it forces a party to violate the provincial statute, or vice-versa. The bottom line is, municipal bylaws cannot prohibit Green Energy Act activities, but they can heavily regulate them, and this is the goal of the group.

"What we're talking about, is establishing a 'Quiet Nights' noise level limit for designated areas of a municipality," he said.

That said, the coalition has not discounted the noise associated with snowplows, fire trucks and agricultural practices. Such noise can be exempt from the bylaw because they are episodic, not ongoing year-round.

"The things that are concerning us can run all the time," Howard said. "There's a key differences there which gives us a reason to exempt agricultural practices."

Another, more quantitative approach the coalition could have used was monitoring noise levels.

"It would be easy to defend in court, but you would have to have a bylaw officer running around with a $20,000 sound level metre trying to enforce the bylaw," he said. "We shied away from that."

Another option the coalition refrained from was looking into low frequency noise and infrasound. Howard said the science may stand up in court, but the coalition wasn't comfortable defending it at this stage.

And so, the coalition have turned to noise regulation in the form of a municipal bylaw.

"The idea has always been that we will work together to form a common bylaw," he explained. "There's strength in numbers."

The coalition is suggesting they draft a generic noise bylaw for municipalities that would be limited to customizing. Howard said the cost of drafting such a bylaw would come with a $50,000 price tag.

"I am hoping we can control the use of lawyer time and get it down again, but that's the number that is in front of us," he said.

In addition, a court reference will cost the coalition $250,000 bringing the budget within a $300,000 range.

To date, the group has had a lot of general interest, but wants to secure formal interest from municipalities. Howard told councillors the process will begin when sufficient amount of money is raised to support the cost.

"We are out trying to find if there is support before we get to work of doing all the other (paperwork)," he said.

Currently, the coalition, has support from the municipalities of Kincardine, North Perth, Bluewater, Huron Kinloss and Plympton-Wyoming while Prince Edward County, Norfolk County and South Huron are still considering involvement.

Deputy-mayor Luke Charbonneau hopes to have a message of support for the coalition in the coming weeks.

"I think it's clear, in my own view, this is something that is worth looking at in terms of working with a larger group of municipalities on this issue," he said.

Charbonneau did however want to make clear that moving ahead with such a bylaw is not a panacea for the development of wind turbines.

"We are not heading down a road of making it impossible to construct a wind turbine... that's not in our power to do," he said. "At this stage it is impossible to say if [the process] will produce a result or not."

Charbonneau said he will be bringing a resolution to council in the coming weeks to see if council will endorse the proposal and put a dollar figure on what its financial contribution would be.

Vice-deputy mayor Doug Gowanlock echoed Charbonneau's support.

"I think the coalition answer is the way to go," he said. "There are hundreds, if not thousands of people in Ontario who are affected by wind turbines with very little or no recourse."

He shared his frustration of not being able to help those who come to him with concerns and believes supporting the coalition will help him to advise them.

Councillor Taun Frosst, who has had an opportunity to hear from the lawyer representing the coalition, told councillors the group would have great footing in the courtroom setting, because it would be battling its own municipal bylaw, rather than a turbine company.


Source: http://www.shorelinebeacon....

MAR 25 2014
https://www.windaction.org/posts/40167-saugeen-shores-council-considering-joining-multi-municipal-coalition-for-noise-regulation
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