I was driving through M’Chigeeng the other day and wondered how long it will be before the two industrial wind turbines are up and running.
Nothing much has happened since they were erected on the bluff. They don’t even have any lights on them. (I hope they aren’t on anyone’s flight path.)
The big wind project on MacLean’s Mountain, near Little Current, is awaiting approval from the Ministry of the Environment. Two things have happened that may have impact on this and any upcoming projects for the Island. One is the recent press release from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture that asked the province to suspend development of industrial turbine projects.
The second was the decision by the newly elected chief and band council of Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation to request a suspension to, or a delay of, the MOE’s 60-day public review and comment period of the Renewable Energy Approval report.
The decision came after AOK’s annual planning session. According to the local press, Chief Patsy Corbiere and council were unanimous that there was not a proper consultation process with the community as to the location of the turbines.
I would imagine that there is a lot of pressure on Chief Corbiere and council about this. I hope they can hang on until they have a clear indication of what their band members truly want. This First Nation is really the only one on the Island that will be affected by the 33-turbine project on MacLean’s Mountain, the other First Nations members don’t live anywhere near the project.
Even the OFA has stated, “the situation regarding industrial wind turbines has become untenable. The proliferation of wind turbines across rural Ontario has seriously polarized our rural communities. Residents not engaged in turbine developments have been pitted against neighbors over concerns with health impacts and quality of life issues. Industrial wind turbine development currently preoccupies the rural agenda.”
OFA concerns include: removal of municipal input from industrial wind turbine projects, price paid for wind power, inefficiency of wind power, no way to store wind power to use at peak times, setback issues and many more.
The OFA was initially was on board with these types of projects. It was thought that supporting turbine projects was a way to help with climate change. But the longer we see and hear the effects of people who live near them and see the way communities and even families have been divided by the projects the more we questioned the companies and the government.
Ray Beaudry, one of the Directors of Manitoulin Coalition of Safe Energy Alternatives says they are getting support from all over Ontario. He went on to say, “AOK has every right to be consulted on this project. We support them fully as well as the elders and youth of Wikwemikong First Nation who have expressed their concerns with industrial turbines. Almost all of our concerns were addressed by the provincial auditor but McGuinty’s Liberals have ignored his recommendations and as a result continue to ignore the health and welfare of rural residents.”
The next big step in the project will be the possible approval of the transmission line that will travel off of the Island to connect to the grid. If it is approved, we are going to be inundated with turbine projects. I wonder how many people on the Island think they will be good for tourism as Northland Power stated. Do they honestly think people are going to drive here to see turbines?
It makes me laugh at how ridiculous that is. Most of our livelihood on the Island is from tourism, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t make your livelihood directly from it, if there are no people coming to the Island, we all suffer.
Ruth Farquhar is a freelance writer based on Manitoulin Island.
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