It has been approximately 20 weeks since the blades on the Canadian Auto Workers’ (CAW) wind turbine in Port Elgin have been spinning. It has also been the same amount of time since members of Stop Turbine Operation Policy (STOP) have been tracking complaints of those experiencing alleged negative impacts associated to the turbine.
A recent email sent to those on STOP’s mailing list, provided some of those complaints which included audible noise outside the home preventing property enjoyment; inside the home causing sleep depravation, headaches, nose bleeds, nausea and dizziness, to name some.
In the same email, STOP spokesperson Greg Schmalz said the listed symptoms go away when those affected leave the turbine area, but reappear when they come back.
Deputy mayor Luke Charbonneau made reference to some of those residents who have made complaints at last Monday night’s council meeting. He also said he had visited with a couple who live on Stickel Street, close to where the turbine is situated.
“It’s bad news,” he told ¡ councillors around the table.
Charbonneau said it was a sad day when he visited with the Port Elgin residents who are said to be suffering from migraines, especially when the wind is coming off of the lake.
Moreover, he said a shadow flicker is now occurring in people’s homes, something the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) said would not occur.
In an interview Friday, Charbonneau referred to a meeting which took place in late 2011 where he was the only town official present. It was there, he said, that Martin Ince, the CAW’s engineer for the project, said a shadow flicker would not occur.
This sentiment, Charbonneau continued, was repeated on page 6 and 7 of the OMB decision that permitted the turbine in the first place.
“There is (also) recorded testimony present from Brooks Wickett (a landscape architect) on behalf of the CAW. He testified that there would be ‘…no appreciable shadow cast by the turbine off site,’” Charbonneau said. “We now know that they were wrong to make these assertions. “
There have been a few recorded incidents of shadow flicker well beyond the limits of the CAW property – on (and in) people’s homes, he continued.
The deputy mayor said the Ministry of the Environment told town officials, some months ago, that the CAW was working on mitigating this problem but, “nothing seems to have been done yet.”
“This is effecting people’s ability to enjoy their homes, it’s effecting their personal well being and is having an ongoing negative effect on vast tracts of developable land in the Town of Port Elgin,” Charbonneau said. “It’s particularly frustrating because they told us it wouldn’t happen.”
“We have gone from fearing these would happen to having the evidence they are continuously happening,” Schmalz wrote in the email.
Members of STOP, as well as some of the families that are allegedly being impacted by the CAW turbine are going before council during the Aug. 26 meeting to go public with their victim stories.
“This,” Schmalz wrote, “is done in hopes our town council will move beyond their position of being against the turbine to actually doing something about the fact they have now witnessed the human face of wind turbines first hand.
“Towns do have the legal power to protect citizens and indeed have the moral obligation to do so,” he stated.