The developer of a proposed wind farm in Saint-Cyprien-de-Napierville cancelled two public meetings scheduled to take place Wednesday, citing the possibility of violence.
“We would have preferred to meet the residents and present our project in a fully transparent way, but we have heard that certain people … have decided to be present only to provoke others, and even engage in racist acts, furthering the potential for violence,” John Bud Morris, president of Kahnawake Sustainable Energies (KES), said in a statement.
Sergio Pavone, who speaks for KES, said it was the mayor of Saint-Cyprien who called him to suggest KES cancel its information sessions. “We were told by telephone … that there would be problems … those were the exact terms,” he said.
Quebec provincial police officers who patrol the municipality of 1,500 also confirmed they were stepping up their patrols in light of the planned meetings, so the company decided to postpone, Pavone said.
Mayor André Tremblay confirmed he made the phone call because he was worried the meetings would get out of hand. “How do you want me to control the crowd when I’m already hopping mad?” he said.
Hydro-Quebec invited aboriginal communities to submit proposals for small-scale wind projects of less than 50 megawatts of energy to be built between 2012 and 2014.
According to the rules, the approval of local councils is not required. All that’s needed is the consent of the landowners, a loophole that doesn’t sit well with the mayor of Saint-Cyprien.
Pavone, however, said the Mohawks have nothing to apologize for. “It was not the Mohawks who made the rules. The Quebec government made the rules.”
The Mohawk-backed company wants to build eight wind turbines that would produce 24 megawatts of energy in farmers’ fields.
In return, the developers would pay the municipality $3 million over 20 years, plus property taxes. Landowners in the village would also get a cut for each wind turbine erected on their property.
“It’s an attractive idea from a financial standpoint,” said local farmer Frederic Boire. He’s already agreed to have three wind turbines on his land and was told by KES he would receive $10,000 per turbine per year.
“Sure, it’s a big machine … but it doesn’t make any noise .… You can barely hear it,” said Boire.
Not true, says Brigitte Schoemans, co-founder of Le vent tourne, a citizen’s group in Saint-Cyprien that opposes the wind farm.
She calls the 98-meter-high structures visual pollution and maintains they will kill migrating birds and harm people’s health. “You have headaches, you don’t sleep at night because of the noise; it’s very bad,” she said.
“It has nothing to do with them being Mohawks,” she adds. “We don’t want those wind turbines here. They should be put up in places or zones where nobody lives.”
KES still hopes to hold its public information sessions. In the interim, its wind farm project has been submitted to Hydro-Quebec, and the company says it could start construction within the next two years.
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