News Norfolk & Region

An earful over turbine noise Leaseholder talking

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

Thursday, February 16, 2017 5:49:32 EST PM

Wally Faulkner, left, is one of the property owners who has agreed to play host to a wind turbine in Port Ryerse. Faulkner told a public meeting Wednesday that the turbine is louder than he expected it to be. At right is Faulkner’s son Steve while behind them is Port Ryerse resident Alan Sheppard.

MONTE SONNENBERG/SIMCOE REFORMER

The company that brought a four-turbine wind farm to Port Ryerse last year got an earful about noise levels at a community meeting this week.

Boralex officials were on the hot seat Wednesday as 40 people from the Port Ryerse area had at them in a committee room at the Simcoe Recreation Centre.

The occasion was a bi-annual meeting Boralex has agreed to have with its neighbours. Also attending were members of the Port Ryerse Community Liaison Committee.

“It’s very loud and it’s very upsetting,” Port Ryerse resident Shana Greatrex told the gathering. “Our whole village has been affected. This is something we warned about a long time ago and no one did anything about it.”

Village residents were surprised when one of the property owners who agreed to host a turbine said his neighbours aren’t imagining things.

“I’m surprised I can hear them as loud as I do, and I wear an earpiece,” said Wally Faulkner. “They’re louder than I expected.”

Comments at this week’s meeting are consistent with complaints across the province that wind turbines are noisy, disruptive and interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of property.

In telling her story, Gail Lyons started off calm enough. However, the bitterness she feels came through loud and clear in her words.

Lyons told the gathering she lives across the road from “one of these pieces of crap that I hate” and that she is often awakened in the middle of the night because her bed is shaking.

“This is not about business or money,” Lyons said. “This is about people. Put your money where your mouth is. Perhaps you could turn them off at night so we can sleep and sit on our back decks in peace.”

Some Port Ryerse residents dread the arrival of the warm weather and the impact the turbines might have once they open their windows. They are especially upset because a community coalition warned for years that the turbines would have a negative impact on their quality of life.

The firm Aercoustics will conduct a first round of noise tests in the weeks ahead. The meeting heard it could take the better part of a year to arrive at a scientific conclusion about noise levels.

“People’s quality of life is being affected now,” said Port Ryerse resident Scott Pullen. “Why do we have to wait for months? It’s disgusting, and it’s criminal.”

Aercoustics representative Payam Ashtiani said the province doesn’t expect wind turbines to be noise-free. He added the Ministry of the Environment has concerns about ambient noise levels once they reach 40 decibels.

Boralex representative Adam Rosso was on the firing line for much of the two-hour meeting. Acting as a facilitator was Toronto moderator Karla Kolli. Kolli intervened on several occasions to keep the discussion moving in a constructive direction.

“It’s disappointing on my side,” Rosso said after the meeting adjourned. “As a good corporate citizen we’re trying to integrate these turbines into the community. There has been some positive feedback and that gives me comfort. No one would relish a conversation where there is an ideological difference with what we do. But we will continue striving to be good corporate citizens.”

Farmer Chris Van Paassen lives on Radical Road near the turbines. He’s a member of the community liaison committee.

Van Paassen places the blame for the anger in his neighbourhood on the Liberal government at Queen’s Park. The Liberals stripped municipalities of planning authority on green energy projects several years ago.

“One of the first smell tests you do with a development is ask whether it complements the atmosphere of the community,” Van Paassen said. “These turbines do not meet the smell test. You might add that the people in Toronto can’t smell it where they’re from. But that’s where these decisions are being made.”

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com

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