Love them or hate them, people in the St. Joseph area were very eager to see exactly where the new wind turbines will be placed in the recently approved St. Joseph Wind Farm Project put forward by BowArk.
More than 100 people were in the door shortly after the open house began, April 8, looking at maps to see where the turbines would go.
Simulated before and after pictures covered the displays and the project also showed off three distinct phases, with more than 250 landowners involved.
Two distinct groups of people toured the exhibits, those who see them as a boon to the economy and others who aren’t in favour of the noise or appearance.
Frank Paetkau was one that was upset even though the closest turbine to his six acre yard is half a mile away. “Looks like we’ll be living somewhere else next year,” he said. “That’s not the reason I bought a place in the country to have one of these things go up.”
A couple vocal in opposition were Todd and Lisa Braun who were pleased to discover there will be no turbine close to their property. But Lisa said they still want to push for farther setbacks, up to 1,000 metres.
But most of the crowd was pleased with the concept. Ron Parent, head of the seven member wind farm project committee said this was a great day. “Our main mandate was to look at the different contracts from companies who wanted to establish wind energy,” he said. “(BowArk) brought a lot of credibility to the table and their renumeration to landowners was superior to the others. This if fantastic for St. Joseph, the district, and the RM of Montcalm. I’m excited to see this come together.”
BowArk President and CEO Brad Sparkes was pleased and said they had good representation from environmentalists and biologists. “We’ve gotten really positive feedback,” he said. “We’ve been here for two days now, met with various groups, and everyone’s positive.”
Sparkes said opposition is minimal. “I would say it’s really a group of five people out of hundreds,” he said. “Not everyone’s going to love it. Everyone has a different perspective.”
Sparkes said most people are concerned about the noise. “You can’t say you won’t hear those turbines, because you will,” he said. “But at 40 decibels, that’s the sound of a library.”
Sparkes said the distances should make everyone happy.
“Average distance (from a home) is about 1.1 kms and the closest is about 550 metres,” he said. “There’s only one or two that are that close.”
They hope to start building roads and trenches for phase one of the project this fall. The 125 2.4MW wind turbine generators are expect to represent an investment of $600 million, and will supply 200-300 jobs during construction and 15-30 permanent jobs during operation.
By Greg Vandermeulen
11 April 2008
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