The president of Wind Concerns Ontario says Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Liberal Party are setting themselves up for an election defeat if they don’t start listening to wind farm opponents.
John Laforet brought his “Truth About Turbines” tour to Lambton Shores this week for a meeting at Bosanquet Central School, hosted by a group called Lambton Shores Concerned Citizens.
Laforet estimated the turnout at about 150 people who, he said, have the same concerns he’s hearing at other stops on the 36-community tour.
“They don’t like the process by which the decisions are being made and they don’t like how their concerns are being addressed by the government.”
Laforet said he told the audience in Lambton Shores about how to oppose industrial wind development, and he encouraged them to get involved in the Oct. 6 provincial election campaign.
“I think what we’re going to see is a lot of Liberal MPPs will be losing their seats . . . because communities can’t afford another four years of this government refusing to listen.”
Laforet is a former federal Liberal riding association president in Scarborough and once even worked for current Liberal Energy Minister Brad Duguid.
Laforet said he left the party when it passed its Green Energy Act and Premier Dalton McGuinty called opponents of wind farms in Scarborough “NIMBY’s.”
“I had to choose between my community and my political party,” Laforet said, “and I choose my community.”
Wind Concerns Ontario is a coalition of about 60 local organizations opposed to the province’s push to back industrial wind farms as part of its green energy plan.
They want the government to halt the building of any more wind farms and arrange for an independent study of their impact on human health.
The groups include one opposing a wind farm project in Dawn-Euphemia, as well as the recently formed group in Lambton Shores.
That community is home to the only 10 wind turbines currently operating in Lambton County, but hundreds more are on the drawing board.
“If Lambton Shores gets 273 structures that are 500 feet tall, this area would have more 50-storey structures than the City of Toronto,” Laforet said.
Industrial wind turbines don’t fit the lifestyle or existing land uses in rural areas, Laforet said. He added that noise from turbines cause health problems – a point disputed by the government and environmental groups who back its energy plan.
But, Laforet said he thinks the Liberals made a big mistake when it decided to get behind large wind farms, instead of concentrating on smaller individual home-sized green energy projects.
“We’re just one of the many jurisdictions that decided big and stupid was the way to go.”
Laforet said Wind Concerns Ontario is waiting to review all of the parties’ platforms before formally endorsing any of them, but he added, “We are pleased with what Tim Hudak and the Progressive Conservatives are calling for.”
Laforet said that includes its support for a moratorium and health study, restoration of local control over the approving wind projects, and the ending of Ontario’s feed-in tariff program and its deal with Samsung.
Maria Van Bommel, the Liberal MPP in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, said it’s too early to say what issue will be at the top of voter’s minds in the fall, but added she feels good about the outlook for her reelection.
“Right now I wouldn’t want to put bets on what the issues are or aren’t.”
Van Bommel she has been talking with farmers in her riding interested in forming a co-op to develop wind projects, “and I also have constituents who have concerns.”
Van Bommel said she sees wind turbines as part of a renewable energy program that includes other approaches like solar projects and bio-gas.
“I see it, for a number of farmers, as another source of income for them,” she said.