CAYUGA – Mayor Ken Hewitt has ignited a firestorm of protest in Haldimand following the announcement of the creation of a “Community Vibrancy Fund.”
In partnership with four green energy companies that are doing business in Haldimand, Hewitt and staff have negotiated the creation of a fund that will see these companies contribute $2 million a year
to the betterment of the county.
The move is controversial because the four companies intend to install 176 wind turbines across Haldimand. This has provoked strong opposition in the community.
As well, Haldimand is one of 58 municipalities in Ontario that has asked the province for a moratorium on wind energy development.
Critics argue that the Community Vibrancy Fund undermines Haldimand’s position in this regard.
At a news conference Monday in Cayuga, Hewitt said he and council are simply making the best of a bad situation. The wind projects at issue will go ahead, he said, regardless of who wins the Oct. 6 provincial election. As well, the province has ignored municipalities and their call for an embargo on further wind development.
“We’ve been given a bushel of lemons,” Hewitt said. “We can sit there and let them rot or we can turn them into lemonade. If this train is coming through Haldimand, I want to be on it, not under it.”
Haldimand council approved the vibrancy fund by a vote of 7-0 at the Sept. 19 council-in-committee meeting. The vibrancy fund, which is valued at $40 million over the 20-year life of the agreement, was not listed on the agenda in advance. Haldimand residents learned of the agreement in a press release Sept. 20.
“If it had been on the agenda last week, I’m sure I would have heard
about it,” said John Laforet of Scarborough, president of Wind Concerns Ontario. “My phone has been ringing off the hook since that press release came out.”
Laforet was one of 40 listed to speak as a deputation at Monday night’s regular meeting of Haldimand council. Many of the scheduled speakers oppose the intensive development of wind power in Haldimand. Hewitt commented Monday that council was bracing itself for “a filibuster.”
On behalf of angry residents, Laforet is threatening legal action against Haldimand council if it ratifies last week’s decision. He says council’s procedures to this point have compromised the public right to “natural justice” on the issue.
However, Hewitt expressed confidence that – by time all presentations had been heard – council would ratify last week’s decision.
Hewitt said yesterday that the power companies that are part of the vibrancy fund have entered into it as a goodwill gesture. There is a recognition, he said, that the property taxes wind turbines will
generate are insufficient for the impact they will have on the surrounding communities.
The companies that are party to the fund are Capital Power Corporation, Niagara Region Wind Corporation, Nextera Energy Canada, and Samsung. Haldimand council expects to use the $2 million annual payment for the construction of recreational facilities, land stewardship, enhancements to police, fire and ambulance, and improvements to roads and other community infrastructure.
The results of Monday’s meeting were not available at press time.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding