Battle of the bylaws

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The community of Tower Road in Millsville is gearing up for a battle with bylaws for the third time in an attempt to keep wind power from disrupting their neighbourhood.

Ward Brubacher has lived on Tower Road for 40 years; he remembers when there was nothing around and when the first wind tower went up in the fall of 2005.

When the first wind tower went up, because it was the first in the county, there were no bylaws concerning the distance it had to be placed from a residence. As a result, the tower was placed 250 meters from the closest residence.

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Brubacher said the residents of the area fought to have a bylaw put in place to ensure a 600 metre setback, but it was too late to be applied to a second wind tower that went up.

In 2015, the community fought for a year to have the 600 metre setback changed to one kilometre for utility turbines. Just like before, the bylaw was initiated too late to be applied to the new turbine, he said.

Now, Brubacher and his neighbours have recently received word that three more wind turbines are planned to be erected in the area. The new turbines, however, are classed as domestic.

“We did not consider domestic wind a threat at the time,” said Brubacher. The current bylaw for domestic-use wind towers is to have the turbine placed one times the height of the turbine from the closest boundary line. Brubacher said he and other residents in the area thought that domestic wind counted as a personal wind tower to help power a home.

The three new turbines are being put up by Northumberland Windfield Inc. Brubacher shared, adding that he believes that there are many local investors in the company.

“The bylaws need to be changed to protect people. I believe wind energy is a good thing but only when the wind turbines are carefully placed and do not adversely affect people’s quality of life,” he said.

Brubacher and other residents are hoping that the county will follow suit with Antigonish and Colchester counties in creating a third class for turbines other than domestic and utility. The other counties have put in place a small-scale wind category requiring the tower be placed two times its height from the closest boundary line.

“These turbines, even though they are smaller, they are still pretty large,” Brubacher said.

He feels as if so far all of the group’s efforts have been in vain. Although they have helped others by changing the bylaws, they haven’t been able to help their own community.

With the new turbines set to be installed in the fall, Brubacher and his neighbours are hoping to get a jump start on things this time by bringing the matter before council this coming Monday, June 19, to have the new wind tower category put in place in time.

They are hoping that members of the public will show up to the meeting at 7 p.m. at County Council chambers to help support the group and their efforts.

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Heather Brimicombe is a Pictou County native and graduate from the University of King's College in Halifax with a Bachelor of Journalism Honours degree as well as a combined major in Sustainability. She has previously won a Canadian Communities Newspapers award for a multimedia feature and was part of a team nominated for a Canadian Association of Journalism data award in the investigative category. Photography, art, sports and outdoor activities are all hobbies of hers as well as crafting, and baking.