Cham Shan Temple responds to wind power controversy in Kawarthas

Buddhism in Canada Buddhist community Eco Action Environmental Issues Ontario Politics

Of late there has been some news coverage about the controversy in the Kawarthas about a proposed wind farm for electricity generation that the Ontario government wants to build beside four retreat centres being built by Cham Shan Temple. Cham Shan is not the only organization opposing the new facility; there are a variety of advocacy groups in the area who also feel the plan is flawed.

We’ve been following the evolving story, and posted about it before. Now, we are happy to report, we have a statement from Cham Shan Temple, via Sean Hillman, explaining their perspective in more detail. Hopefully, Sumeru can provide a useful contribution to the discussion as a venue for stakeholders to clarify their main concerns…

I have been asked [writes Sean Hillman] to post these comments on behalf of the Cham Shan Temple representative Diane Chen:

“On behalf of Cham Shan Temple, we thank you for speaking up on our behalf… This is not about property values. This is about our constitutional right to practise religion as intended.

Right now the government has not done enough studies to understand the impact of infrasound and low frequencies to humans, especially meditators. This directly impacts our project to build 4 meditation centres.

A similar case “Tharpaland Meditative Retreat Centre” in Ae Forest of Scotland faced the same situation as us. They were in operation since 1984. In 2012 they submitted evidence to the Scottish Parliamentary Inquiry, with reports peer reviewed by Lougborough University, to show that up to 70% of ability to concentration is lost due to impact ofinfrasound generated by wind turbines. Their wind turbines under study was about one third our size, yet the affected area is up to 5 miles. The Sumac Ridge industrial wind turbines are 476 ft tall, taller than most condos. In the end, Scottish Power bought them out.

We live in Canada, a country that is proud of its multiculturalism and diversity in religious faith. This is why we are proud of its Charter of Rights which protect our rights to practise religion as intended.

Our project is 20 years in the making, and the first phase of construction has gone to the point of “no return”. Sumac Ridge project could be located elsewhere but our project cannot.

Sumac Ridge project is partly located on Oak Ridges Moraine, which is the drinking source for over 250,000 people. There is also the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan to protect it and development is forbidden to be built on it. Over 2800 objections have been posted to the EBR. Many more objection letters were sent to the MOE.

Cham Shan Temple is in support of green energy, but not the way the current Green Energy Act is enacted.

Our reasons are:

Not enough consideration is given to the important Oak Ridges Moraine.

Not enough consideration is given to local municipalities who have repeatedly been voicing their concerns on unacceptable and unsuitable sites being given approval. It impacts the health and safety of the local communities, and the infrastructure and planning which the municipalities are responsible for.

Not enough consideration is given to existing religious establishments which have different environment requirements. That is why our Temple bought large parcels of land for each site to protect the natural environment needed for the construction and practice of its religion.

Not enough consideration is given to respect the Treaty signed with the First Nations, that the First Nations should have been consulted as required by constitutional law to do so. They have submitted their objections due to violation of their constitutional right, but still nothing has been done to address this issue.

Not enough studies have been done to assess the impact of infrasound and low frequency impact to humans. In one of the previous ERT hearings, the Tribunal itself recognized the need to have further studies done on this topic, but to date the MOE still has done nothing to act on this recommendation by its own staff.

They are many more issues with the way approvals are being granted without enough considerations and consultation prior to the approval…the Peterborough Airport is another example of this …

I believe the above facts speak for themselves as to why the Sumac Ridge project cannot be allowed to go forward.”

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