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Wind turbine concerns shared with Town of Elk Point council

A delegation spoke to Town of Elk Point council on Feb. 12 regarding concerns over a potential wind energy project in the Northern Valley area.

ELK POINT – Mark Mallett and Chris Habiak of Wind Concerns visited the Town of Elk Point's Feb. 12 council meeting in the Northern Lights Library System board room, with close to 40 residents of Northern Valley and surrounding areas in attendance at what Mayor Parrish Tung made clear was “not a public hearing. Mark and Chris are here with a 15-minute presentation.”

That presentation started with a seven-minute video outlining potential health affects on those living in areas with industrial wind turbines in place and urging those in areas with the prospect of wind farms to “do your due diligence” before it becomes a reality.

“There are two things,” Mallett said, following the video, “Audible sound and infrasound, with pulsations detected up to 90 km away.” 

Large 679-foot-high turbines have been proposed for the Northern Valley project and Mallett feels, “We’re an experiment that Elemental Energy wants to put in the midst of a fairly dense rural area.” He was recently contacted by an Ontario woman living in a similar rural area dotted with turbines who told him residents there were able to prove the sound issues “and tried to get through to the government and to the companies” with no result and now have advocates fighting on their behalf.

“The biggest concern is for our health, and if we had to leave the area and tried to sell our property, there would have to be full disclosure of the issue."

Mallett says wind turbine syndrome “is a real syndrome and a real human health problem. My main point is that up to 15 km away people can feel the effects of the turbines.”

Valleys, such as the North Saskatchewan River valley have been identified as “natural conductors for the noise, and the proposed development is right on top of the river valley,” he added.

“We’re pushing St. Paul County for a 15 km setback. These turbines have no business being around people, and there are a lot of people here tonight who are scared. I love this community and the river valley, it’s stunning. Elk Point is the gateway to the Lakeland, why would we want to risk that?”

Mallett reminded council that the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) “wants to hear from municipalities, and it’s critical that this council have a voice that AUC wants to hear.”

Everything from local wildlife, including the endangered whooping cranes whose summer grounds are in the Northern Valley area, to the Elk Point Airport, located north of that area across the river, could be impacted, he noted.

“We are recommending to the County that there be setback of 20 to 30 km from town limits, a mandatory setback 5 km from the river valley… and forbidding the disposal of highly toxic turbine blades and parts at transfer stations. We have asked the Province of Alberta to declare a moratorium on industrial wind factories, and we ask the Town of Elk Point to make this request as well. It’s the legally and morally right thing to do.”

Thanking Mallett for the information, Coun. Tim Smereka said he felt it was “very well presented.

Council reactions

Mallett’s presentation was back on the agenda later in the meeting, with the mayor acknowledging the overall concern and the scientific arguments behind it.

“I have concerns,” Deputy Mayor Wanda Cochrane said. "But I’m not prepared to make a decision. I do appreciate the information we received.” 

Coun. Smereka also wanted to postpone a decision, saying, “There are certain things that we have to monitor, that our people are not being jeopardized."

“Mark was very thorough with his information,” Coun Jason Boorse noted. “It’s a land use issue, for the County of St. Paul. We should have a say but the County has to take the lead, they are very cautious over this. I would rather defer a decision.”

Mayor Tung was also “not prepared to make any decision, we have to respect our county neighbours.”

The presentation was filed for information.

About the Author: Vicki Brooker

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