A proposed wind farm will encroach on traditional hunting grounds, members of Fort William First Nation say.
Chief Peter Collins, band councillors and members of Fort William First Nation were among the more than 170 people attending Horizon Wind Inc.’s second Renewable Energy Application meeting at Fort William Country Club Wednesday.
Members of the First Nation community stood over a map discussing turbine locations with project manager Nhung Nguyen. Collins said some turbine locations, like one proposed east of Sawdust Lake, are on the First Nation’s property.
“They’re encroaching on those lands and that’s where they (First Nation members) hunt the moose every year. Every fall,” Collins said.
Although Horizon Wind has said consultation with Fort William First Nation has happened, Collins said a meeting with council is not the same as full consultations.
“One of the things we keep telling (Horizon Wind Inc. president Anthony Zwig) and his group is every time he meets with us our council is not a consultation process. We have members. If it’s going to have an impact on our traditional lands then they have to have a consultation process done with our members,” he said.
The chief said another issue is a 50-year agreement, signed 11 years ago, with Thunder Bay for first right of refusal to purchase the land being leased to Horizon.
“We’re in kind of a catch-22 situation here now. We’ve pretty much lost what we think we had,” Collins said. “With turbines on it, we’re not going to purchase it now.”
Zwig said discussions with the Fort William First Nation are a continuing process.
“That’s surprising, we just met with them last week and we’ve met with the council a number of times and have had meetings and discussions with many of them over several years,” Zwig said.
But band councillor Leo Bannon Sr. said Horizon needs to meet with all 1,800 First Nation members, not just the council.
“We run the reserve for the band, not for ourselves,” Bannon said.
Bannon said most of the members of the First Nation hunt, trap or at least eat the meat from those traditional lands.
“Once a bunch of those turbines go up the moose are going to leave and they ain’t going to let us go in there and hunt,” Bannon said.
And if consultation doesn’t occur, Bannon said a protest against the proposed wind farm might be necessary.
“We’re going to go to the ministry and the governments to fight this” he said.
Zwig said a meeting will take place between Horizon and the First Nation once a date can be agreed on.
The company is also setting up a meeting with members of the Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee.
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