CLA Campaign to Stop Industrial Wind Turbines in Ottawa by Shirley Dolan

Shirley Dolan
Shirley Dolan

In April 2020, while following the City of Ottawa’s development of their New Official Plan, I discovered a document called Energy Evolution Strategy. Contained in the document was a plan to install 710 industrial wind turbines on prime agricultural land in rural Ottawa. Soon after the discovery of the document, the Carleton Landowners Association (CLA) embarked on a campaign to let as many people know about the City’s plans, as possible. Our concern was that the City was not being transparent about their plans. Questions to staff and councillors met with convoluted explanations that there were NO plans to construct wind turbines in Ottawa but their actions demonstrated otherwise.

We were told that the Energy Evolution Strategy was a “concept” so we shouldn’t worry too much about what it contains. However, funding from Hydro Ottawa dividends and from the draft Budget 2022 are being directed to implement the projects described in the document.

The CLA used email, Facebook, mail, and unaddressed mail to let residents know about the industrial wind turbines. As individuals, we spoke to friends, family and neighbours and phoned and emailed our City representatives and staff. We attended and spoke at virtual public consultation meetings. We partnered with groups such as Ottawa Wind Concerns and Industrial Wind Action Canada.

And, we made a difference.

Our goal was to alert as many people as possible to the potential for hundreds of wind turbines to be sited on farmland in Ottawa. And we succeeded. Councillors remarked that they had heard from many people who are concerned about the wind turbines.

Ottawa Wind Concerns submitted a motion to amend the Official Plan. This motion was reworded and submitted at the Joint Planning and ARAC Meeting by Councillor Scott Moffatt. It passed the Joint Meeting and also the Council meeting on October 27th.

The new paragraph in Section 4.11 of the Official Plan reads:

“6)  Large-scale provincially regulated wind turbines are not permitted on lands designated Agricultural Resource Area.  This policy does not apply to small-scale wind generation associated with a permitted principal use.”

A good start but this still leaves lots of farmland available for wind turbines. Lots of farms are designated rural general.

On another note, I finally received an answer to my question about the siting of large industrial sized wind turbines in Ottawa from the Ministry of the Environment’s Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process. Yes, there is indeed a provincial process for wind turbines in Ontario, contrary to what Ottawa City Councillors and staff are telling us.

According to REA, the regulation that governs the renewable energy approval process is Ontario Regulation 359/09, which is available here:  Among other requirements, this regulation outlines setbacks between project components and sensitive receptors such as residences, as well as setbacks from sensitive natural features. Those proposing to develop renewable energy projects (that require a REA approval) must meet these requirements.  In 2019, our ministry made amendments to Ontario Regulation 359/09 to:

  • Require renewable energy developers to demonstrate demand for the electricity they propose to generate
    • This meant that the ministry would no longer accept REA applications from proponents that haven’t clearly demonstrated demand for the electricity they were proposing to produce (either through an energy contract or own use)
  • Give local municipalities authority over the siting of renewable energy projects.
    • This meant that the ministry would only accept REA applications if the proponent provided confirmation that the host municipality allowed such development in the location proposed

The second bullet is also contrary to what we have been told by Councillors and staff: that the City has no say over whether we get industrial wind turbines. This bullet seems to indicate that the municipality has quite a bit of say over if/where wind turbines go.

Thanks for everyone’s help and support.

Next step for the Official Plan is the Ministry of Municipal Affairs for approval.