Thunder Bay residents have the right to talk about how sight lines will be affected if a wind farm is erected on the Nor’Wester mountain escarpment, said the president of Wind Concerns Ontario.
John Laforet is the president of the coalition of 54 community groups, including the Nor’Wester Escarpment Protection Committee, that are opposed to wind farm projects across the province. The coalition kicked off an Ontario-wide tour to raise awareness and interest on what it calls the environmental, health and economic concerns surrounding wind turbines Thursday morning at the South Neebing Community Centre.
“The aesthetic argument for ridgelines has been made and accepted in North Carolina, which is another area that looks after tourism,” he said. “It’s not unprecedented for a community to protect a unique geological feature, especially one that is driving tourism dollars.”
Horizon Wind Inc.’s proposed Big Thunder Wind Park – now at the centre of a $126-million lawsuit against the City of Thunder Bay – calls for 18 turbines to be installed on the mountains.
While there are other industrial and commercial enterprises in the area and on the mountain – specifically Loch Lomond Ski Resort and AbitibiBowater’s pulp and paper mill – Laforet said those developments are different because they generate jobs and sustain communities.
“Green Energy Act projects aren’t subject to zoning and they don’t generate local jobs,” he said. “There are some temporary construction jobs, but with any of the others…you’re creating either seasonal work or full-time work and that sustains the city.”
Laforet is also concerned about the environmental impacts the construction of the turbines will have and said it needs more study than is being given.
“The environmental damage that would be done to install these wind turbines and the minimal amount of power that would be put into the grid don’t meet any reasonable measure that I can see,” he said.
However, Laforet didn’t share the same concerns for the wind farm projects being developed in Shuniah and Dorian.
“Those are different projects and they are not comparable to this project in that the population is considerably set back from these ones,” he said, adding there are also no opposition groups in either community.
Laforet will wrap up his tour in Ottawa in January 2011.
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