Committee Transcripts: Standing Committee on General Government - April 15, 2009 - Bill 150, Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009
The Acting Chair (Mrs. Linda Jeffrey):Our last deputation of the day is the Ripley neighbours group. Welcome. Thank you for coming today. If you could state your name, whoever is going to be speaking, for the Hansard record. When you begin, you'll have 10 minutes, and at the end we'll have five minutes for questions.
Ms. Sandy MacLeod: My name is Sandy MacLeod, and I'm going to start the presentation.
We formally request that the more than 150 submissions that did not get a voice in front of the committee receive time at extended dates. We also formally request that committee members use their five-minute time wisely and benefit the Ontario citizens and not waste our time by trying to discredit our integrity. We have written letters to the editor, put up lawn signs, and during phone calls voiced concerns about our health way prior to the project going on line. Having an informed opinion is encouraged in a democracy. Our deteriorating health changes are not opinions. The wind industry and some Liberal politicians consistently try to cast doubt by disrespecting our experiences.
We formally also request that our MPP, Carol Mitchell, resign from the standing committee and devote 100% of her time to resolving the harm to the health of families in Kingsbridge, Ripley and now Tiverton wind projects. Ms. Mitchell needs to spend her time focusing on her constituents who hired her to do a job for them and resolve their health problems. Some families have been suffering for over three years. I'll begin.
Emotional and social stresses: We are quizzed or defending our health problems at community events such as hockey games, shopping or church. Dysfunctional community relations have been created by the wind project representatives and some community members trying to discredit the validity of our problems.
The family unit for each family has deteriorated and has been torn apart. We begged for sleep, and four families were billeted by the wind company from their homes for 90 to 180 days in motels, hotels and a rooming house. The consistent stress has broken apart the family unit-no gatherings, few or no celebrations at home. At present, one family has purchased a separate residence to live in, and two others had to, at the expense of thousands of dollars, modify their hydro connection to try and live in their homes that they've lived in for 19 to 35 years.
Due to concerns for the health of grandchildren, grandparents, older children, extended family members and friends, we all strongly discourage extended visits to our homes. We had to meet somewhere else other than our homes for celebrations.
Neighbours, business acquaintances and media personnel from two different networks have also felt the pressure in the chest and ears and ringing in the ears while in our homes. In an open invitation to the Premier and any other politicians and their families to pack their bags and live in one of our members' homes for two weeks, our MPP suggested that we might trade by living beside a pig barn or beside a grain elevator.
There are additional points-in red-that will help support that these comments of discrediting people's health are not founded.
Health and safety: We're like the first population of smokers who went to their doctors with health problems. This is the third official warning to the Liberal government of Ontario: There will be harm to citizens of all ages and gender, due to wind projects.
Let's be very clear on one serious point: Each of the families has had the same two environmental changes in their lives since November 2007:
(1) Our hydro configuration has changed to now include the connection to unfiltered power from the turbines and its substation.
(2) The blades of the industrial turbines began to rotate over, near and above the height of our homes.
Sleep deprivation; sleep disturbances; poor-quality sleep; humming in the head by the ears; edginess; a feeling as if you've had five cups of coffee; bad temper; heart palpitations; heaviness in the chest; pains in the chest like needles; increased blood pressure, 217 over 124; uncontrollable ringing in the ears; earaches; sore eyes, like you have sand in them; digestive problems which continued for months; headaches which caused you to be bedridden; the sensation of your skin crawling or being bitten by bugs; sore joints; nosebleeds; sores on feet that would not heal until you moved out of your home; inability to concentrate or form words; a severe feeling of being unwell; bedridden for days; depression; tiredness; anxiety; stress-these are the signs and symptoms we have experienced over the past 17 months. Note that the above all start to subside when you leave the polluted environment of your home. The health changes are individual. Even the pets are affected while in the home-losing hair, sore ears-but not when away from the home.
The long-term health effects have also started to show. There's an increased sensitivity to certain sounds and high-frequency lighting, such as in the local stores, and in this room as well. You feel ill upon entering the building. Hearing difficulty has occurred. What other effects will occur?
Just like the first group of smokers, we counted on the government we hired and paid our tax money to, to have intelligently had all the facts determined before any wind project began.
Who is accountable for the unseen health changes occurring within our bodies from basically living in a vibrating microwave? What protection is there for a developing two-year-old who cries endlessly and pulls at her ears when she's in her home, but not when she's away from the project? Who's accountable to the young family who are expecting their second child? What if there's a deformity or a miscarriage resulting from infrasound, low-frequency sound and the electrical pollution?
The health costs of four families have impacted the health insurance plan 61 times, strictly for health problems due to the two factors stated previously. I had a local hospital finance department calculate a rough estimate for the bill of one family member-$5,000 for one family member. Fourteen ER visits; 19 doctor visits; seven specialist visits, for ear, foot and heart; blood work, six times; audiologist, five times; CT scans, twice; heart machines and stress tests, five; Doppler testing, one; X-ray, one; urine tests, one-do the math. This is just four families so far. Who's going to pay for the health costs due to the health effects of wind projects?
There's additional in the gold.
Mr. Glen Wylds: Thank you, Sandy... I'm Glen Wylds. I live in the middle of the Ripley wind farm. I'm going to talk about the financial impact, the cost, to us as the homeowners.
Each family has incurred additional costs from budgets for food, fuel, laundry and doctor visits while living away from our homes. Family events had to be held in restaurants. There is wear and tear on our vehicles. There is the extra cost of extensive phone bills from trying to get the problems fixed. There is the price of putting isolators on our homes to protect our families from the unfiltered power. There's the cost of going to meetings. There's loss of productivity due to sleep deprivation. A loss of three weeks from work occurred.
The market value of a property is determined by what buyers are willing to pay for it after it is exposed to the market for a reasonable period of time. Affecting market value is the saleability of a property. The more saleable, the higher the value. Conversely, if there are factors negatively affecting the saleability of a property, the value will be reduced, or it will become much more difficult to sell, or both. If there are factors negatively affecting the property, or unknowns-or in this case, controversy-surrounding a particular property, while those conditions exist, the property will not be saleable at any price. Whether the market value is sustainably reduced or the property is unsaleable, it is a major cost or liability to the owner. That is from a real estate agent in Kincardine.
Ontario common law and MLS rules and regulations set out for Ontario realtors all require full disclosure of factual information regarding properties offered for sale by owners. This means an owner is legally obligated to disclose any information known or expected about a property that may affect a buyer's decision to purchase a property.
My real estate agent tells me our farm is unsellable. Our homes are unsellable or of zero value. Buying a second home to live in, which I've done-possible lawyer fees, possible appraisal costs. Our lives are upside down for the last 18 months, and how do you put a cost on that? This is like someone committing a crime, going to jail for, say, 10 years and then finding out after DNA tests, "Oh, you're innocent." How do you get that time back at our ages?
There have been other costs to Ontario Hydro and Hydro One for testing our problems, which were not caused by them. Values of houses near us are going down. The township lost tax base assessment. I and Sandy have appealed to MPAC to reassess our homes. The drugs are covered, and also to our own drug plans we're going to have to pay more money-and the Minister of the Environment.
Communications: There has been no progress report on what is happening from the companies. Larry Bester, who is the manager at Acciona, will not return our calls. There's no follow-up from the wind project about our health issues. Carol Mitchell had a meeting with us in Kincardine approximately two months ago. We have had no reply from her. I know she's been talking to Suncor. I think two months is unreasonable. Ripley Wind Farm did not give us minutes of any meetings, so nothing is documented legally. No communication from the wind projects when the underground cable failed-
The Acting Chair (Mrs. Linda Jeffrey): Mr. Wylds, you have 30 seconds left.
Mr. Glen Wylds: Okay. I've got three quick questions. The first two are a show by hands. Does anybody on the panel live in the middle of a wind farm? I'll take that as a no. Would anybody, after hearing about the health problems we're having, want to buy a property in the middle of a wind farm? So I'll take that as, nobody wants to live where we want to live. Carol, what's a reasonable length of time for you to communicate back with us on your findings with Suncor?
The Acting Chair (Mrs. Linda Jeffrey): Mr. Wylds, your time is up. The first question is with Mr. Yakabuski.
Mr. John Yakabuski: Thank you very much for your presentation. It has been eye-opening today because up until now, so much of this evidence or testimony has been third parties. Again, I can't comment on the science of it because I'm not qualified to do that. But, Sandy and Glen, do both of you personally suffer from the health effects?
Ms. Sandy MacLeod: Yes.
Mr. Glen Wylds: I was the one with the blood pressure of 217 over 124, on the verge of a heart attack. I had no blood pressure problems prior to that. My doctor told me, "Leave the home."
Ms. Sandy MacLeod: The same with myself.
Mr. Glen Wylds: My blood pressure is normal now, living in Kincardine. I go home to do chores. We run a feedlot of 550 cattle, so I do have to go back and forth.
Mr. John Yakabuski: I look at the report on doctors' visits, and I cannot believe that anybody would intentionally-I know how much I like to go to the doctor, but I can't believe that anybody would want to be going to the doctor this many times and that different kinds of doctors would suggest that obviously they've got some kind of a health issue. It just seems that the government is not interested in addressing them or responding to them.
The Acting Chair (Mrs. Linda Jeffrey): Thirty seconds to respond.
Ms. Sandy MacLeod: The sound that you hear is 24/7 in my house and it's even more intense than this; this is as close as I could find to it-non-stop, and that's low compared to a windy night and it's after we've had our house filtered. I was the one who had heart attack symptoms on February 22. I had it for the first time in 27 years of teaching; I've taught over 4,000 students in my 27 years. I've seen 17 of them pass. I've seen my father-in-law pass of cancer. I've seen my dad pass of cancer. I've never been so very sick. I was in the hospital with heart attack symptoms. The hospital, after seven and a half hours, was able to get all of my symptoms down to normal.
I had doctor's orders at that time to stay away from work and also to stay away from my home until modifications were done. My husband and I spent an extensive amount of money to get electrical pollution done. For example, last night the turbines were really loud. I haven't had a chance to call the spills action centre on them, but they were loud last night. It was difficult to get to sleep, even till 3 o'clock in the morning. Helen herself also had difficulty sleeping.
The Acting Chair (Mrs. Linda Jeffrey): Thank you. Mr. Tabuns.
Mr... Peter Tabuns: One of the issues that people have remarked about has been stray voltage. Has this been an issue on your farms?
Ms. Sandy MacLeod: We have electrical pollution that comes into our home. That's been well documented as well. That's from the unfiltered power that is coming into our homes, because it doesn't get filtered until it gets to the substation.
Mr. Glen Wylds: The one common thing that we all have-it isn't just the towers; it's the transmission line with the dirty electricity going to the transformer station, going past our homes. The transmission line was 92 feet from my bed.
What happened was, they put us in different motels and paid for it, for them to bury the cable in front of our homes, which they did. In my case, it failed about two weeks later. In the middle of a snowstorm, instead of just leaving the wind farm down, they had K-Line out there jumping the insulators-because the lines were never taken down-to get the power back on.
This is all about money. If this was at Bruce Power, the CEO would shut the plant down. Public health, employee health and the environment are important issues. Darlington would do the same. But since it's a wind farm, people-they live 3,000 miles away. Nobody works for the wind farm who lives on the wind farm-nobody. The manager lives in Shallow Lake, which is about 60, 70 miles from us. They don't do it.
I want everybody to live in my house. Nobody will live in it. I offer to everybody here: Come and live in my house, free.
The Acting Chair (Mrs. Linda Jeffrey): Thank you.
Mr. Glen Wylds: Free accommodation.
The Acting Chair (Mrs. Linda Jeffrey): Questions from the government side? Ms. Broten.
Mr. Glen Wylds: I'll even leave a box of beer in the fridge.
Ms. Laurel C. Broten: Thank you for your presentation today. I am sorry that the wind farm has caused you these health issues and has caused grief for your families...
We had a thoughtful presentation this morning, or earlier today, by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, who started to analyze some of the differential factors associated with when residents close to wind farms have problems and when there are no problems. They focused on tower noise, transformer noise and location.
In your last comment, you made a comment with respect to the transmission lines and the buried lines. Would that be consistent for all those that you know who are having these health issues? Are they directly related to transmission lines?
Ms. Sandy MacLeod: I'd like to comment on that. That's exactly what a government should do. A government should take all the money we've given in taxes, use some of it to get the science people out there with no association with the wind industry at all-get out there and study this, and don't put up another wind tower or another wind project until you fix the problems. That's what good government does. Good government looks after its people.
Ms. Laurel C. Broten: Have you been working with the Ministry of the Environment on these issues?
The Acting Chair (Mrs. Linda Jeffrey): Excuse me; can you keep it quiet back there? We can't hear the answers of the delegates.
Mr. Glen Wylds: We've been talking to Shawn Carey from Owen Sound. They are doing sound studies, but as Sandy says, it's a combination of things. Our families are unique because we have the unfiltered transmission lines going past our homes. Once you get past the transformer, people north of there, going up to the Bruce, nobody has complained that we know of. It's only five families that have the unique thing about it.
Ms. Laurel C. Broten: Okay.
Ms. Sandy McLeod: I'd like to add to that.
Ms. Laurel C. Broten: Sorry, I just want to make one comment with respect to the importance of having Ms. Mitchell on the committee. I represent a riding in Toronto. Mr. Tabuns represents Toronto-Danforth. It is really important to have an MPP such as Ms. Mitchell on this committee, to have the ability to reflect the reality and the circumstance in her own community. I think-
Ms. Sandy McLeod: Excuse me. Before you go any further-
Ms. Laurel C. Broten: -that should be recognized.
The Acting Chair (Mrs. Linda Jeffrey): I'm sorry, we can't have two people talking at the same time. If you'll let Ms... Broten finish, I'll let you have 30 seconds to respond. That's how it's going to work. All right.
Ms. Laurel C. Broten: Thank you. For those of us who are trying to assess, "Are there challenges with implementation? What are the specific details?" it really is very important to have someone who represents part of the province where we see a lot of wind development.
Ms. Sandy MacLeod: Okay, just a minute, please.
The Acting Chair (Mrs. Linda Jeffrey): Excuse me, sir. You do not have the floor. Sir, you can leave.
Ms. Sandy MacLeod: Okay, just a minute... Let's think through this clearly. If Ms. Mitchell was going to give the Ontario Legislature, and thus the rest of the province, the best information possible, the best way to do that would be to solve the problems within the farms that are in her constituency right now, take that information back and use it appropriately and prudently so that the harm that has come to us will not be experienced by any other families in this province.
The Acting Chair (Mrs. Linda Jeffrey): Thank you very much. We appreciate your delegation
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