By Kevin Werner • METROLAND WEST MEDIA GROUP
Hamilton councillors could switch direction and lift a moratorium on new wind turbine developments within the city limits.
Flamborough councillor Judi Partridge, who is spearheading council’s about face, says the city’s support for a moratorium on wind turbines, while demanding the provincial government scrap its own ban on the alternative projects sends a mixed view to businesses.
“I really think it sends a confusing message, particularly to those outside of Hamilton,” said Partridge.
Partridge’s motion has received its fair share of support from the business community, and the United Steelworkers local. But opposition to the motion has also been generated with letters from the Glanbrook Wind Action Group, seeking council to maintain its current position.
Council’s backing for a moratorium is particularly difficult coming at the same time the city through its support behind Windstream Energy, and its $1.5 billion, wind turbine project located five kilometers off Wolfe Island in eastern Lake Ontario near Kingston. The 300-megawatt project is expected to create about 1,900 jobs, including about half in Hamilton. Four city companies will be working on the project, including the Hamilton Port Authority.
“We as a city need to support them, especially when you heard the commitment that these businesses are making,” said Partridge. “These are employees that live in every ward of this city. I don’t think there should be a moratorium on any kind of opportunities.”
In September, 2011 Hamilton council backed a motion establishing a moratorium on any new wind turbine developments within the city limits. Then in November, in an 11-5 vote, councillors asked the province to lift a province-wide moratorium on off-shore wind turbine projects, effectively halting the Windstream Energy development. It is unclear when the province will remove the moratorium. The moratorium, which doesn’t include land-based projects, was slapped on by the province last February so more research can be conducted on the turbines’ impact on the environment.
Partridge’s motion would keep Hamilton’s moratorium in place for the Glanbrook area. The area would be bounded north by the Niagara Escarpment, on the east by Grimsby, south by Haldimand, and west by Upper Centennial Parkway and Highway 56. Binbrook residents have been concerned about the possible health effects of a wind turbine development in West Lincoln.
“They do not support the wind mills,” said Partridge. “I get that. We can still protect them. But as far as the city of Hamilton, it’s the wrong message to our business community.”
Politicians are scheduled to debate the motion at their Jan. 25 council meeting.