An advocate for native hunting rights says the McGuinty government and Ontario municipalities could learn a thing or two about democracy from the Six Nations band council.
Bill Monture expressed surprise Tuesday the province can order municipalities and their residents around at will. He contrasted this with deliberations on the reserve, where everyone – young and old – has input and decisions are made by consensus, he said.
“To me, I see you have government rammed down your throat,” said Monture, who prefers to go by his clan name, Karihwanoran. “And the people suffer. If you need any help, contact our government and see what they can do to help you.”
Monture was speaking at Norfolk council about the proliferation of wind turbines along the north shore of Lake Erie. Monture, who appeared wearing a native headdress, is concerned turbines are driving game away from areas where aboriginals hunt.
Monture and his colleagues from Six Nations support local resistance against wind turbines.
Also addressing council Tuesday night was Heather Walters of Port Ryerse, who tabled a petition with nearly 450 signatures against a plan to situate four large turbines in a rural area west of Port Dover on Radical Road.
“Nearly every resident of Port Ryerse signed his or her name,” Walters told council. “Many others from Port Dover signed as well.”
The petitioners want Queen’s Park to return planning authority over turbines to the local level. They also want the setback of 550 metres for turbines in settled areas increased to two kilometres. The petitioners also want the county to withhold all permits required to install green-energy projects until the province addresses their concerns.
Mayor Dennis Travale explained to Walters that municipalities have been stripped of all authority on green-energy applications. These decisions, he said, are 100% in the hands of the province. Travale added Norfolk County could expect legal action if it withheld permits without legal justification.
Walters replied the county standing up for itself and its residents would be its own reward.
“At least we could say we fought this,” she said.
Stephana Johnston of Port Rowan, a former resident of the Clear Creek area, claims wind turbines in her neighbourhood made her sick. Johnston suggested another line of legal attack at Tuesday’s meeting.
Johnston noted the setback requirement for wind turbines in Ontario was set at 550 metres after the Erie Shores Wind Farm was established in southwest Norfolk. Many of the 48 turbines straddling the Norfolk-Elgin border are much closer to homes and settled areas than this. As such, Johnston said the county has a case for their decommissioning.
Council asked its Senior Management Team to discuss the pros and cons of following through on Walters’ and Johnston’s proposals. The county’s senior bureaucrats meet on Wednesday mornings after each council meeting. CAO Keith Robichaud will report back with an information memorandum at a later date.
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