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Walmart not commenting on wind turbine plans

Walmart Canada is remaining tight-lipped about its plans for a proposed 20-kilowatt, 80-foot-high wind turbine for its Fairview Street store.

The company first announced plans last September that it intended to install a turbine.

Since then, there has been strong community opposition to the project.

The company earmarked the Fairview Street store in Burlington and its Milton location for turbines through a $2-million environmental initiative.

Walmart filed an application with the Ministry of the Environment in December for the Milton turbine, but there has not been an application registered at this point for the Burlington turbine, leading some community members to question the future of the turbine.

The company turned down an interview request from the Post this week saying, “At this time, we have no update on the proposed wind turbine project at our Burlington location.”

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward is hopeful that the company is going to change its mind about building the turbine at the Fairview Street store, instead considering other environmentally-friendly projects.

She said she has been working with a Walmart representative, encouraging them to rethink the turbine.

“The key message I communicated with Walmart and the government relations person was (that) we are not saying no to green energy, we are not saying no to sustainable business practices – we are saying that a turbine isn’t the right project in this place, so let’s look at alternatives,” she said.

Meed Ward said she expects an announcement about the turbine could be made by Walmart Canada soon.

“I’ve been told they will make a decision and an announcement within the next week or two, so that’s what I’m waiting for myself,” the Ward 2 councillor told the Post last week. “I’m hoping it will be good news, but it is in their hands now. We’ve done what we can, which is communicate not only community feelings about a turbine, but also our support for alternative energy and environmentally-sustainable practices. We’ve done what we can do and now it is in Walmart’s hands.”

Meed Ward said she has also been talking with politicians and residents about the issue.

“I’ve been working with the people that own the land on either side of Walmart,” she said. “I’ve also had a meeting with (Burlington MPP) Joyce Savoline. We have formed an informal coalition to persuade Walmart to think of other sustainability practices that they could use at that store other than a turbine.”

According to the initial notice made by Walmart Canada back in the fall, the turbine would be stationed in the parking lot on the north side of the store. Energy created by the structure would be used directly by the Fairview Walmart, transferred from the turbine by underground cable.

The proposed turbine would have a blade length of 20 feet, with a sweep area of 1,256 square ft. The blades will be made of fiberglass.

A petition against the turbine currently has approximately 400 signatures, Meed Ward said. She gave the list of names to Savoline to present in the Ontario Legislature last month. Meed Ward said there is consensus among residents of her ward on the issue.

“The consensus is ‘Let’s find alternatives that are energy-friendly and environmentally-friendly,’” she said. “I’d be willing to look at packaging and also business practices in terms of importing from far distances and decreasing their carbon footprint. There are other ways to get much bigger bang for the buck if you want to be environmentally friendly and sustainable.”

Meed Ward said she is prepared to continue the fight if the company does go ahead with the next step of submitting an application with the Ministry of the Environment.

“Once they register, that triggers a formal process where residents can formally complain to the ministry and ask the ministry to not approve it,” she said. “That’ll be the next step.”