(BETHANY) Mother Nature may have had a more powerful presence than those opposing the proposed Sumac Ridge turbine project, but that doesn’t mean they’re done fighting.
Even through a heavy down pour, local residents rallied outside Rolling Hills Public School where representatives from Wind Power Development (wpd) Canada were holding a regulated second public consultation meeting.
Amid concerns over a comment posted on Ontario-wind-resistance.org website urging people to “Chain and padlock all the doors into the building”, security guards and OPP officers were brought in to keep the peace.
It was unnecessary.
For the most part, everyone – albeit still voicing concerns over the project – conducted themselves respectfully.
While Manvers Wind Concerns used the school parking lot to hold a rally and gather signatures opposing turbine projects, and hosted a barbecue outside the Manvers Community Centre, dozens of people entered the school gymnasium to speak to wpd staff and view information on display. A 20-minute video ran, continuously, providing project details.
For Sara Miller, who has lived in the area all her life, it was yet another example of the company ignoring concerns of residents.
“I’ve been fighting this for three years,” said Ms Miller noting “so many people are gonna lose” if the turbine project is approved; her own vested interest includes a teenaged son with a heart condition. “The health concerns alone are so great. It’s criminal. Criminal.”
While wpd communications manager Kevin Surette noted studies have been done regarding such matters as health and safety, Ms Miller counters these are “bogus” and the company is simply spinning the information so that it works in their best interests.
“Make no mistake. These turbines will have a tremendous impact on our health and on our community,” said Ms Miller, adding, once one project is approved, others will follow without hesitation. “This will be like a grass fire.”
It’s why Ms Miller will keep fighting the project, both for her own family and every other family that will be impacted.
Stuart Williams agrees the community needs to remain “vocal.”
Mr. Williams is especially concerned with the impact the project will have where it comes to wildlife and natural heritage.
“As far as we know, this is the first proposal that is being evaluated in the Oak Ridges Moraine,” said Mr. Williams, pointing out that, with the Green Energy Act superceding the previous Oak Ridges Moraine policy, there will be no stopping other projects if Sumac Ridge moves forward.
Local MPP Laurie Scott – who was joined by Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson who made the four-hour drive to Bethany – urged everyone to not give up the fight.
“We need to make these companies understand that they’re not welcome here,” said Ms Scott during the rally which elicited applause and the comment ‘they’re not welcome anywhere’ from within the crowd.
In support of the public, Ms Scott committed to maintaining pressure at Queen’s Park “to oppose wind turbines for those municipalities that don’t want them.”
Ward 16 Coun. Heather Stauble encouraged people to send letters or e-mails of objection to the wind company – and copy her as well – and ask that the documents be included in the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) approval, which is the company’s next step, and as part of the public record.
A decision from the Ministry of the Environment is expected in early winter. If approved, construction would begin in 2013.