LISTOWEL – “How do you live with yourself?”
“Where’s your conscious?”
These and other questions and comments were hurled at Invenergy Canada director of business development James Murphy by members of the public following his delegation at a North Perth council meeting Monday evening.
Tensions ran so high in the crowded council chambers that Murphy had to leave via a back exit as a crowd of angry picketers had gathered around the main doors.
Murphy had been addressing municipal council regarding Invenergy Canada’s proposed low-density, 23 to 27 industrial wind turbine project for North Perth and Perth East.
Murphy explained that Invenergy Canada has been hosting weekly information sessions at Veky’s in Listowel, and will be hosting two open houses including a question-and-answer period on Feb. 15.
Invenergy has reportedly received support from several local landowners who have signed contracts with the company.
Councillor Meredith Schneider asked Murphy how much prime agricultural land each turbine and access road would eat up. Murphy indicated the company intends to use about three acres per 1,200-acre block. He invited council members to attend a bus trip to the Raleigh wind energy project in Chatham-Kent to see how this is done.
Deputy Mayor Vince Judge said the issue is causing a rift in the community. He said he and other councillors are hearing from concerned citizens, reading the letters of opposition in The Listowel Banner and are seeing farmer against farmer and neighbour against neighbour.
“I am here to defend my community,” Judge said. “I think it’s just terrible the way you are going about this.”
His comments were met with cheers and applause from the crowd.
“I didn’t say that for applause,” said Judge. “I am saying it for the people here. Do you realize what you’re doing in this community?”
“We certainly are aware,” said Murphy. “Part of what we’re doing is being open and honest.”
Councillor Warren Howard said he was concerned about possible health effects.
“There are literature reviews [but] they’re not really talking to people on the ground,” he said. “We need to get focused on what’s happening on the ground.”
Councillor Matt Richardson expressed concern over property values, adding it may be difficult for farmers to build or expand under given setback distances.
“What we’ve tried to do is have a low-density project that benefits everyone in the community,” said Murphy.
Richardson also wondered why this area was chosen. Murphy said Southwestern Ontario’s proximity to the Great Lakes makes it conducive to developing wind power.
Councillor Matt Duncan inquired after Invenergy’s stance on landowners changing their minds after they’ve signed a contract, if they feel they weren’t sufficiently prepared beforehand…. Please read more in this weeks Listowel Banner
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