ATWOOD – There’s no question that people have voiced their opposition to the proposed Invenergy wind turbine project in North Perth and Perth East, but the extent of that opposition is finally coming to light.
The results of a survey conducted by the Elma-Mornington Concerned Citizens Community Group were released on Friday morning, Speaking from the farm of Steve Dobson and Dr. Karen Galbraith near Atwood, Perth East resident Ross Stone explained that the survey was initiated as a direct response to a comment made by Premier Dalton McGuinty on April 14 regarding wind turbines, indicating that there are “all kinds of communities that want them” and that he doesn’t need the headaches associated with forcing them on communities that don’t want them. With a result of 96 per cent of participating residents opposed to the project, Stone said the survey clearly states where the community stands on the issue.
“To this end, we now have the solid numbers that 96 per cent of residents here do not support Invenergy’s project and we’re calling on the premier to honour his statement,” Stone said. “He said he doesn’t need the headaches associated with them going into communities that don’t want them, and clearly the people of North Perth and Perth East do not want them.”
In total, 610 households took part in the survey, amounting to 74 per cent of the study area for the Invenergy Canada project. Thirty-two households were supportive of the project, and seven of the ballots were spoiled, indicating neither support nor opposition. Stone said the survey was conducted by a secret ballot, done by using sealed Elections Canada voting boxes and monitored by a third party, accountant Bob Uptigrove.
“What we wanted to do was to put as much credibility into the process as we possibly could,” Stone said. “We wanted to remove any questions regarding the integrity of the survey.”
The survey consisted of a single question of whether or not the voter wanted industrial wind turbines in North Perth or Perth East. There were 15 people making the survey calls, and Stone said they were often greeted warmly by the households they talked to.
“Households more often than not were actually thrilled that there was somebody there and they had the opportunity to provide input,” Stone said. “They were thanked repeatedly for doing this, I thought that spoke volumes.”
Stone said the results of the survey will be forwarded to Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece, and he will in turn deliver them to Premier McGuinty’s office. Stone said he also expects representatives of Invenergy Canada will be made aware of the findings.
“Certainly Invenergy will become aware of these results as well, and I would call on them to respect the survey results and not initiate a project in an area where they clearly are not welcome,” Stone said. “How could they move into an area where they’re not welcome?”
Stone hopes that other communities follow their lead on this type of survey to see what the opinion of residents truly is, rather than allow the Liberal government and developers to rely on the assumption that most communities are passively supportive of wind turbine projects.
“Based on the resounding success of this survey, I would fully expect other communities to do exactly the same thing, to accurately gauge and measure support of a project,” Stone said. “To me, 96 per cent overwhelming says it is not welcome here.”