NorthGowerWindTurbines

March 25, 2011

Ottawa’s villages to become ghost towns? Does anybody care?

In today’s Ottawa Citizen, columnist and Osgoode resident Joe Banks writes that amalgamation has virtually killed Ottawa’s rural villages; he says the lack of local councils that used to work to encourage development, means there is none now, and the villages will be “ghost towns.” He thinks Ottawa should care about that.

We wish Ottawa cared about that. Or cared about anything in its villages, or the quality of life for village residents. If they did, they would almost certainly have some thoughts about having North Gower transformed into an industrial power plant, with huge industrial wind turbines proposed for just outside the village proper boundary, but still very close to homes and families in North Gower subdivisions. The same goes for south Richmond. (And, it must be stated, that the 10 turbines proposed could only be the beginning: Shelburne started with 20, they now have 150, and dozens more are planned.Haldimand/Norfolk already has dozens, and the province just annnounced another 176.) The same thing is happening right across Ontario, as rural communities are being used as “resource plantations” for industrial wind turbine developments, gravel quarries, and dumps.

Here is Joe Banks’ column from the Citizen:

Ottawa’s villages could become ghost towns

 
 
By Joe Banks, Ottawa CitizenMarch 25, 2011
 
 

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http://www.ottawacitizen.com/columnists/Ottawa+villages+could+become+ghost+towns/4500800/story.html

The eight-foot-high for-sale sign adorning the former Main Street Café has been standing for so long, it is now less an ad than a part of the landscape. Across the street, the old bakery has been closed for a decade, converted to a home, and the once-bustling Sweet Peas Pantry and gift store is a more recent casualty, as is Julee’s craft and quilt shop, which closed last year.

The former brown Boyd-block food store beside the long-gone rail yards that will soon become a bike path, has been an empty shell for as long as anyone can remember, alternating as a storage for the amateur theatre group and some residential rentals. Mary’s Dollar Store, and even the Sundays-open flea market, both once operating out of the little mall, is largely forgotten by the villagers.

If we didn’t have an arena, the popular Red Dot Café, Raymond’s convenience, Pat’s gas and video and Ozzie’s Pizza, it’d look to a visitor as if Osgoode Village was up for sale -or on its way to becoming a ghost town.

It’s sad, yes, but Metcalfe, North Gower, Vernon, Kars, and Fitzroy Harbour, all have their own versions of village gentrification.

None of this happened overnight. It has happened over a decade, coincidentally since amalgamation.

That this is news to you is because it transpired like a slow dissolve at the end of a movie. Nobody noticed.

It’s not a reach to say that Ottawa’s smallest villages have become true bedroom communities in every sense of the word, attracting everyone who wants rural quiet within reach of urban amenities.

My fellow villagers blame amalgamation, and it’s tempting to agree with them.

Prior to that forced marriage, the former cities and townships that made up the Region of OttawaCarleton competed with each other. Each had a council and separate staffs that did what they could to attract residential, and consequently, business development, into their communities. The regional government kept on eye on the bigger picture, including the prospect of urban sprawl.

That competition, virtually overnight, disappeared, as the city was ordered by the province to become one big happy family. Since then, in our determination to halt development from the city’s inside, there has been a steady decline in the economic activity of the villages, even as their populations grew, and continued to become, like ours, highly attractive places to live. To urbanists, this is evidence of tough love, that development intensification inside the Greenbelt has worked, that the line has been held on sprawl, and contained to where existing services end.

But from the rural perspective, it’s a policy that is working a little too well, as a perception is reinforced that limiting growth here, in fact, means no growth at all.

That’s not the kind of signal to send to future small rural business owners. Who would want to chance a million-dollar mortgage on a village diner in Osgoode, for example, when they could get one for a ground floor condo in Hintonburg, or a new one in Carleton Place or Kemptville?

Investment dollars follow certainty. And right now, the city’s intensification policy doesn’t give rural entrepreneurs or their lenders that warm and fuzzy feeling that its villages will be anything more than bedrooms for the urban city’s living room.

Hence the rise of what I call PIMBYism -the Please In My Back Yard advocates. These are people who believe in some development, some growth, and some tinkering with the city’s plan. It was in play in Manotick when the silent supporters of the Minto subdivision proclaimed their support of that village’s growth, even as thousands of their neighbours rallied against it.

Our village’s PIMBYists have been rooting for a 90-unit development on the south side of Osgoode known as the Buckles subdivision, and the further progression of the 30-unit Fairfield Estates on the north side.

Buckles was approved 10 years ago, but hasn’t had a single house built on it yet for reasons only the developer knows. Fairfield is in its third phase but two-thirds of it remain empty.

But is true modest growth possible when we have been so fixated on containing it inside the Greenbelt? It’s a timely question as the city’s planners have embarked on the latest review of the official plan, and villages are on the agenda. Public consultations in the lead-up to the OP review, which will regulate the city’s growth over the next halfdecade, are already under way, to help planners learn whether villages should be allowed to grow, and if so, by how much.

Any at all would be a welcome relief from the sight of for sale signs that would, in any other neighbourhood in this city, be temporary.

Joe Banks is an Osgoode Village resident and a former Ottawa area community newspaper editor and publisher.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

If you’d like to comment, email the Citizen at letters@ottawacitizen.com

October 18, 2010

The urban-rural divide

In the October 17th edition of the Ottawa Citizen, columnist Kelly Egan takes issue with the CHEO Dream of a Lifetime house built by Minto saying it’s too opulent, too big, and we should all just send the hospital our money and not indulge in “house envy”.

Aside from the fact that the usually intelligent Mr Egan misses the point of the show house (it showcases the product and work from dozens of local businesses, and is an attention-getter for the hospital charity), he makes one statement that has us incredulous.

“Bet the winner doesn’t move in,” Egan says. “First of all, it’s in rural Manotick…”

“Rural Manotick”? WHAT?! First Line Road is hardly the boondocks. The house would be 20-25 minutes to downtown Ottawa, if that’s where you’re headed, and five minutes from shopping and amenities in Manotick, including Robinson’s Your Independent Grocer which has won Best Store in its class in Canada numerous times.

But this just goes to show you what urban dwellers think of rural residents: we’re all living out in the middle of corn fields here and so who cares if a couple of 60-storey industrial wind turbines go up. Nobody here but us chickens.

In Burlington, people are upset because the WalMart wants to put up a 28-meter wind turbine and they’re worried about the noise, the bird kills, and what it will do to property values. They want a say in whether the thing goes up. (Good luck with that.) And yes, we said 28-meter not 28 storeys, and yet, these people are upset.

Once again, this is a sign of how the urban dwellers are quite content to use electricity without thought of where it’s coming from, and in the case of the (mythological) “clean” “green” energy production, their view is if someone has to make a sacrifice, it might as well be the rural people.

October 14, 2010

Industrial wind turbines: impractical, unreliable, expensive “blight”

From today’s Arnprior EMC, a broader look at Ontario’s power situation. Note North Gower in paragraph 9.

When will common sense catch on?

Common sense needed to remedy hydro situation

Posted Oct 14, 2010 By Jeff Maguire


EMC News – The natives are restless and it appears Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and the governing Liberal party is slowly waking up to that fact.

The rapid rise in electricity costs for consumers in this province has finally burst the Grits’ bubble.

We are told by the so-called “experts” that the current government is simply passing along hydro rate increases that should have been implemented years ago.

Years of mismanagement has left Ontario’s electricity system in structural and financial chaos. The more recent decision by the McGuinty Liberals to close coal-fired plants to suit their “green” agenda has simply exacerbated an already bad situation.

Now Ontarians are feeling the pinch and frankly conservation isn’t the answer. Most people I know are doing their level best to reduce their use of electricity. But with delivery charges and other “historic” issues the main reason for the cost increases, cutting back won’t do much to assist individual customers.

To make matters much worse, instead of revisiting the matter of traditional electrical generating methods – coal-fired and nuclear power – this government is intent on furthering their green objectives.

Wind and solar energy are “best sellers” in terms of winning votes – or at least the Liberals evidently feel they are because they have been working hard to sell both methods of electrical generation to Ontarians.

For example, wind turbines are becoming a more common site in North America. They’ve been used in wind blown places like the California desert for a long time but are now making their way into the eastern United States, Canada and Ontario.

Wherever turbines are due to be installed, controversy quickly follows. Witness the much maligned installation on Wolfe Island near Kingston. Or a planned “wind farm” near North Gower in rural, south Ottawa.

They are gigantic devices with massive blades which have upset residents who live close to such installations. Many say they are “a blight on the landscape” and there is also some evidence of health problems related to exposure to the waves of energy transmitted from these huge, whirling machines.

Solar farms are somewhat more passive and placed on scrub land, that isn’t much use for farming, they seem harmless enough. The Ontario government is encouraging people to install solar panels on their homes and property. They are even soliciting excess power from large-scale solar developments on private land, in hopes of adding the electricity to the provincial grid.

You might even be able to pay your mortgage, or better, by installing the panels and selling power to the province make a little on the side as well.

I know some people who are “off the grid” because they chose to go solar and install batteries which store the excess energy generated by the sun. Those I have spoken to couldn’t be happier. They aren’t saddled with the sudden increase in hydro payments most of us are.

But is this practical for the majority of people? And more importantly, is electricity generated by solar and wind cost-efficient on a larger scale?

Judging by virtually everything I have read on this subject – and I have read a great deal – there are big questions about that.

On a larger scale solar energy is big business for some companies who are seeking sites across Eastern Ontario and across Canada.

The initial cost of installing solar panels is expensive although some are clearly willing to try it in hopes of saving money and perhaps even generating income.

As for wind power, large scale developments can only be established after months and years of lobbying and hard work by large companies. Gaining approval isn’t easy as we have seen in our own province recently. People, especially neighbours, are skeptical and highly resistant, partly due to unknown factors such as the potential for damaging the health of individuals.

We have also spoken to many people in Europe, particularly the United Kingdom, about wind turbines which are in extensive use there and have been for many years.

Most we have spoken to give them an immediate thumbs down. People in Britain are tired of seeing turbines spring up on so many pieces of vacant land, or standing like behemoths on the horizon, seemingly everywhere.

One of the largest such developments in Europe is planned for the estuary of the River Thames, on the east coast of England. In fact wind farms located in shallow waters, just offshore, are common in Great Britain. And for my money they are ugly!

Outside of aesthetics, the argument against turbines is simple. They add very little to the electrical generating capacity of the countries where they are now commonplace. In Britain for example wind turbines contribute less than three per cent of the electricity which flows into the national grid. And remember, there are thousands of these giant beasts everywhere!

At first blush we weren’t offended by the sight of turbines. We first saw them in wind-swept Cornwall, England in the mid 1990s.

Now my wife and I are tired of the things. They are everywhere in the UK. We just saw a huge development in rural Scotland in August which, from our point of view, scarred an otherwise tranquil and beautiful landscape.

We don’t look forward to seeing that situation develop in our country or worse still in our own backyard.

I have written previously about the large wind farm which sprang up at Brainardsville, New York in the Adirondacks, not far from Malone, a couple of years ago.

At first it was a curiosity to see turbines in this beautiful part of upper New York State. Now we detest the sight of the things when we drive through that part of the northeastern U.S. If we lived there we would be among the many who are lobbying against the things and there is an intense effort to have them removed from what I have read.

In Britain coal-fired electrical generation has gained traction once again because of improvements in how efficiently coal can now be burned. In recent times modern methods have dramatically reduced emissions and made coal a more practical means of producing power.

Obviously nuclear is a much vilified means of electrical production. There are obvious safety considerations involved and therefore many people are scared of it.

Nuclear power generation has to be respected, but in real terms there have been relatively few serious accidents – thank goodness. Of course another Chernobyl is always a possibility and makes us shy away from using a powerful method of generating power.

I am an advocate of taking a fresh look at coal-fired plants, especially given modern science and especially considering the dilemma we so clearly face in this province and this country.

We have to do something and coal-fired is probably the fastest and safest way to improve our electrical generating capacity in heavily populated Ontario, not to mention the rest of Canada.

As for the Ontario government, the increasing stream of letters to the editor in newspapers these days has to be viewed as another setback for an administration which is coming under increasing fire over its electricity-related programs and policies.

Smart meters, skyrocketing delivery charges, along with such things as regulatory and debt retirement charges already had hydro customers in Ontario reeling. Then, on July 1, the McGuinty government introduced the hated Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) and promptly added that to our electrical bills.

It is all too much for most of us and some people have clearly been pushed over the edge by this unexpected, added expense. The complaints have reached tidal wave proportions, so much so that the premier has announced his administration will look at ways of cutting the costs for seniors and low-income earners who, obviously, are among the hardest hit.

What about the rest of us? We don’t want these higher costs either. I don’t know anyone who does.

With a provincial election now just one year away the polls show support for the Liberals dropping like a stone in water. The Progressive Conservatives, despite their own organizational issues, have benefited massively.

The cry “anyone but McGuinty” is rising in crescendo and is giving the opposition parties in Ontario renewed hope and growing confidence.

It is time for practicalities and common sense to push aside the green lobby and get Ontario back on track in this important department.

If you have any comments or questions for Jeff Maguire, he can be reached by e-mail at: jeffrey.maguire@rogers.com

October 13, 2010

The truth about politics in Ontario: they’re all to blame

In today’s Financial Post, pundit and now, as it turns out, wag, Lawrence Solomon creates the speech that Tim Hudak should give today to the Energy Association. But won’t. Because the truth is, all parties in Ontario have contributed to the current situation regarding electricity, the Conservatives no less than anyone. We have already recommended reading Hydro: the decline and fall of Ontario’s electric empire (up until the last chapter when the authors fall hard for the false economy of “green” energy) for a background of the politics of power in this province, but Solomon’s fake speech for Hudak sums it all up.

The link to the full article is below but here are some delicious bits:

“…that Oakville power plant should never have been ordered in the first place–it was the result of another political decision, a grand-standing decision to replace the province’s entire fleet of coal plants in favour of windmills and other forms of renewable energy. The windmills not only cost several times as much as coal, they are also unavailable most of the time, because the wind doesn’t blow on demand. To provide backup when the wind doesn’t blow, the citizens of Oakville were told they would need to live with a power plant for a neighbour.”

“…until today, I have failed to vigorously defend our province’s coal-generating stations–some of which are among the cleanest on the continent–and I have failed to vigorously attack the entirely unjustified wind and solar projects that are bankrupting our province.”

-[On Europe] “Europe has other lessons for us, too. The more countries went green, the harder they fell. In Spain, the biggest green subsidizer of all, every green job that the government created cost more than two jobs elsewhere in the economy. Spain’s unemployment rate is now 20%, the highest in the developed world. To rescue its economy, it is slashing green subsidies, leading to a wave of green companies filing for bankruptcy. Other European countries are also bailing out of this so-called green economy, in good part because their governments are finding out that industrial wind farms aren’t necessarily environmental. They gobble up farmland, destroy birds by the thousands, and pollute communities with noise. Because of community opposition, the largest grass-roots movement in the western world is no longer anti-nuclear, but anti-wind.”

Wow. Don’t you wish that’s really what Hudak was going to say?

Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe.

http://opinion.financialpost.com/2010/10/12/ontario-power-lesson/

July 4, 2010

“Avian megadeath” and other features of wind

In the National Post this weekend a letter from a reader in Calgary who points out what it would really mean to have enough industrial wind turbines to replace a plant generating energy from another source, in this case an oil sands plant.

Avian megadeath certainly, and wholesale destruction of the landscape for very little return. Here is the letter:

http://www.financialpost.com/Wind+power+would+avian+megadeath/3231767/story.html

Check in with the North Gower Wind Action Group at http://northgowerwindactiongroup.wordpress.com or northgowerwindaciongroup@yahoo.ca

June 17, 2010

Algonquins’ Pimaadiziwin: understanding the natural world

The conclusion of Dishonour of the Crown, the book by Ardoch Algonquin First Nation Chief Paula Sherman, professor at Trent University, has interesting implications regarding decisions about the proliferation of industrial wind turbine developments in Ontario.

Chief Sherman writes:

Pimaadiziwin is the Algonquin term that expresses the spiritual ecology in which we exist as human beings. It is the epistemological theory that shapes our understanding of the world and our relationships with the Natural World. Pimaadiziwin refers to the ability to live the “good life” with a “good heart and mind.” * The Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers are the methodology we use to guide our attitude and behaviour with each other and the world around us. Those teachings include honesty, bravery, wisdom, truth, honour, love, and respect. Pimaadiziwin and the Seven Grandfather Teachings were integrated into each and every aspect of individual and collective existence. ** Pimaadiziwin, then, shaped the behaviour of individuals in ways that prevented them from making choices or decisions that would jeopardize the health and vitality of the community.

When it comes to industrial wind turbine development, particularly in North Gower-Richmond, there has been very little respect for the community or the environment, and even less for the health and vitality of the community. Instead, we have promises of employment (short-term and temporary if true at all), prosperity (not for people who own homes nearby and face reductions in property value of as much as 30%), and a solution to Ontario’s energy needs (also not true–wind is notoriously inadequate, unreliable and inefficient; Ontario’s entire population of wind turbines currently operate at less than 34% of capacity). As for the Natural World, industrial wind turbines–particularly those which are to be 626 feet tall–could have an effect on the water table (their foundations can go very deep) and on wildlife such as raptors and bats, both key components of the environment.

Pimaadiziwin: a simple concept and framework for harmony and balance.

*Sherman,P. “Indawendiwin: Spiritual Ecology as the Foundation of Omamiwinini Relations”. issertation submitted to the committee of Graduate Studies in partial fulfillment for the degree of doctorate in philosophy in the Faculty of Indigenous Studies, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, 2007, p. 171.

** Ibid.

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