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Local Health Unit Calls for Greater Municipal Input

into Siting of Wind Turbine Projects

 

(Brighton) When it comes to the siting of industrial wind turbine projects, the local health unit wants municipalities and community members to have a greater say in the process.

At yesterday’s meeting, Board of Health members for the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit called for greater municipal and community input into a recently announced review process of Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan.

The review is expected to be completed within six months and will consider all aspects of Ontario’s electricity system – conservation, generation, transmission, distribution and emerging technologies such as energy storage.

The Board also requested that community members, especially those living in the vicinity of proposed wind turbine projects, be given the opportunity to provide input on the projects and that the Board of Health continue to work with the Ministry of Environment to ensure that companies proposing projects comply with all the rules and regulations around the siting of wind turbines, including the increased set-backs that apply to the cumulative number of turbines in a proposed area.

“We have to realize that wind turbines are here to stay,” Board of Health member Gil Brocanier said. “In everything we have heard it appears that wind turbines are not the issue, but where they are sited. There are hundreds of municipalities that have passed motions about the health issues caused by wind turbines and they are not gaining any traction with the province. What is gaining traction is having the municipalities have some control over siting so that we don’t have some of the issues we face now.”

The Board’s motion came after a decision to amalgamate two different resolutions  - one put forward by Board of Health member and City of Kawartha Lakes councillor Heather Stauble and one put forward by Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lynn Noseworthy.

In speaking to her resolution, Councillor Stauble spoke of the need to address siting and set-back requirements for on-going and proposed wind turbine projects and the frustration that people who live near the proposed projects face in relation to health issues and decreasing property values.

Dr. Noseworthy spoke to her resolution and said that, while the Board has heard a number of presentations and delegations about wind turbines, there remains insufficient scientific evidence that there are adverse health effects related to wind turbines.

“There is evidence that some people are annoyed by them, with annoyance being related to wind turbine noise, the visibility of wind turbines, differential economic benefits from them, and the lack of meaningful input into the siting of them,” she said.

The new motion was unanimously approved by the Board of Health and included recognition that there have been numerous self-reported health concerns among residents near wind turbines.

The Ministry of Energy recently announced that it will be working with the Ontario Power Authority and municipalities to develop a competitive procurement process for renewable projects over 500 kilowatts that will require energy planners and developers to work directly with municipalities to identify locations and site requirements. As well, the new process will be increasing local control in renewable energy development and that it will work with municipalities to focus on conservation and helping to identify the best energy infrastructure options for a community.

“I think this is a good place to be and a good resolution to put forward,” Dr. Noseworthy said during the discussion. “I think this will carry a lot more weight and will be well received provincially by helping to pave the way to move forward.”

The Board of Health has heard a number of delegations and presentations on the issue of industrial wind turbines. At the May meeting, area residents Tyne Bonebakker and Dave Tomiszer made a presentation on acoustical measurement and impact in which they recommended that the prescribed setbacks for wind turbines be in decibels rather than meters, and that the Board of Health recommend the Ministry of the Environment refuse the approval of industrial wind farms until conclusive and independent clinic health studies be completed and that safe low frequency and infrasound noise level guidelines be established.

At the May meeting, the Board also heard from Dr. Ray Copes, Chief, Environmental and Occupational Health for Public Health Ontario, who presented a public health perspective on wind turbines and discussed how the potential health and safety risks from wind turbines appear modest when compared to other technology. Dr. Copes also discussed noise, night noise guidelines for Europe from the World Health Organization (WHO), sound produced by wind turbines and factors that may influence annoyance from wind turbines.

MOH Update

Growing Good Food Ideas

Public Health Dietitian Kimberly Leadbeater spoke about the work being done to create a food charter for Northumberland County. More than 560 people completed a Healthy Communities survey conducted in 2011, and the second priority identified for the area was ensuring access to healthy and affordable food. A community partnership was formed to help further the issue and to date, the group has developed background information, developed a logo, video and website with information and has plans to host a community workshop and “visioning” meetings. As well, members of the community partnership are making presentations at municipal council meetings throughout the County to garner support for the concept of a food charter.

Approved, a motion that the Board of Health support the development of a food charter for Northumberland County.

Sodium Reduction Strategy

Dr. Noseworthy provided information on the evaluation of an education and awareness campaign on sodium consumption that was created by Health Unit staff and ran from March to December 2012.  Another phase of the campaign will begin this month and run throughout the fall. To support the campaign, the Chair of the Board of Health will send a letter to the Minister of Health supporting Bill 59 which, if passed, will require food service providers to display calories and sodium content for food and drinks on their menus.

Fundraising

Board of Health members from City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County thanked Health Unit staff for their efforts in raising $347 towards flood relief in both counties.

Reports

Hoarding – received, a presentation on Hoarding from Public Health Inspectors Carol Chan and Sami El-Hajjeh. Their report provided a definition of hoarding and gave an overview of the individual health risks and public health risks of hoarding. As a multidisciplinary approach is needed to address the issue of hoarding in the community, work is underway to develop coalitions or working groups in Northumberland and Haliburton counties and the City of Kawartha Lakes. The goal of these coalitions is to increase awareness and education of the issue in the community and work to support people who may have hoarding issues.

Operating Statement – approved, a motion to accept the draft operating statement for the HKPR District Health Unit. As of May 31, 2013, the Health Unit had expenditures of $6,994,162.

alPHa Conference - Dr. Noseworthy provided a report on the recent conference of the Association of Local Public Health Agencies in which the HKPR District Health Unit had three resolutions up for discussion. The resolutions were: banning the sale and distribution of all tobacco products in the province by 2030, the Healthy Smiles Ontario Program and the Overall Inequity within the Oral Health Care System and Mandatory Physical Education for Ontario Secondary School Students.  The latter two were adopted with amendments and the resolution on the ban on tobacco sales and distribution was sent back to the alPHa board for further discussion.

“We are starting the discussion and paving the way,” Dr. Noseworthy told the Board. “There was a lot of good discussion around the issue but conference participants decided it was an important resolution that should be looked at further.”

New Business

Approved, a motion to have the Medical Officer of Health send a letter to area municipalities to suggest that they receive any submissions from the Ontario Convenience Store Association (OCSA) with caution and consult with public health officials before responding to recommendations.

This comes after a presentation from the Health Unit’s Tobacco Control Officer Lorne Jordan explaining that the OCSA is urging municipalities to lobby the government to take tougher measures to combat contraband tobacco. The problem, Jordan said, is that this campaign from the OCSA is funded by the tobacco industry.

“This is funded by big tobacco and they have a lot of money and resources and are very good at getting their message out,” he said. “The problem is they are saying that it should be the legal tobacco that kills you rather than the illegal tobacco that kills you.”

Approved, a series of policy and procedure revisions.

Next meeting

The next Board of Health meeting will be held at 10 am on Thursday, September 19 at the Health Unit’s Port Hope office at 200 Rose Glen Road.

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For media inquiries, contact:

Dr. Lynn Noseworthy, Medical Officer of Health, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100 or

Chandra Tremblay, Manager, Communication Services, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100

 

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