Wind turbine debate sparked in Ontario election

Political leaders in the Ontario election are presenting their plans for the development of wind turbines in the province.
Wind turbines are shown at the opening of a 44-turbine wind farm near Port Alma, Ontario in November 2008. There are 900 wind turbines in the province. (Dave Chidley/Canadian Press)

Political leaders in the Ontario election offered differing viewpoints on wind turbines following an exclusive CBC report detailing how the province’s Ministry of the Environment downplayed health concerns despite receiving hundreds of complaints.

According to 1,000 pages of documents released under Ontario’s Freedom of Information Act, frontline ministry staff also warned their supervisors that they had no way of measuring the noise turbines emit.

At a campaign stop in Toronto, Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty, who has championed renewable power with the 2009 Green Energy Act, defended wind turbines, referring to a May 2010 provincial health report that failed to find a link between the noise they emit and medical problems.

"I rely on our chief medical officer of health here in Ontario to tell us what's safe for our families," he said Thursday. "What we have heard, of course, is doctors [and] nurses for 20 years now, they're saying you got to shut down coal-fired generation in Ontario."

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak, meanwhile, is calling for a moratorium on wind turbines.

"I think it's causing damage to communities and it's awfully expensive," Hudak said.

Hudak has also lambasted the Liberals for the government’s $7-billion green energy deal with Samsung, vowing to tear up the agreement if elected.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she’s not convinced wind turbines cause health problems but said communities should have more say in where the structures are placed.

"The government cut out community voice and rushed the project, we now have all the backlash," she said.

On Wednesday, CBC reported a family in southwestern Ontario has launched $1.5 million lawsuit against Suncor Energy Inc. and Macleod Windmill Project Inc., alleging eight industrial turbines near their home are causing a number of health problems.

There are around 900 wind turbines in Ontario.