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Troublesome winds blowing

The proposed wind energy project for North Perth and Perth East has shaken this community.

Letters to the editor are arriving on a daily basis. Normally laid-back and meek residents are speaking out on their beliefs. Tensions ran high during a recent Invenergy Canada delegation at North Perth municipal council.

Folks are concerned, confused and many are downright fighting mad about wind turbines. It isn’t every day that a controversy of this magnitude takes a small-town community like this by such force.

The vast majority of local residents do not want a wind energy project here. We are basing that theory on the many residents who have contacted the Banner or made their opposition known in some other form.

According to Invenergy Canada, the company has acquired more than 75 per cent of the land it needs for its low-density, 23-27 turbine project. If that is the case, obviously there are residents who support the project. Who and where are they?

Why won’t they speak out? Are they afraid? Worried about what others will think? The company claims it has enjoyed broad support from residents in this community. But these residents are keeping their support under wraps.

No doubt the recent firestorm of opposition has made the wind-turbine proponents hush up about their recent dealings. But it can’t stay secret forever, especially if this project comes to fruition. Meaning, the debate we’ve seen thus far may only be the beginning.

According to www.canada.com, “Growing opposition to wind farms in Ontario has led to the delay or cancellation of at least three electricity-generating projects in recent months, prompting the province’s energy minister to warn the not-in-my-back-yard phenomenon is a threat to the province’s energy security.”

According to an article in The Sudbury Star, “Every time there’s a public meeting to discuss a project, crowds gather with questions: How far should they be from homes? Are there health effects? Do they produce enough energy? How much noise should they be allowed to create? And what happens if they’re not sustainable? Do we have rusting hulks dotting the landscape? (The recent unveiling of a solar energy project the size of nine Rogers Centres near Napanee to provide electricity for a mere 1,000 households did nothing to ease fears.)

Central Ontario is one of several prime targets. Others include Lake Erie and the Owen Sound area. At one public meeting, 150 people turned out in a village with a population of half that. In Prince Edward County, another attracted more than 300. And in the City of Kawartha Lakes, a crowd of 500 got so worked up, fist fights broke out.”

Thankfully, we haven’t yet experienced violent opposition quite to that extreme here. But it begs the question, is this what we have to look forward to? There is much passion underlying the debate here and abroad. No wonder leaseholders are keeping mum.

North Perth, Perth East and Perth County as a whole have long been peaceful, neighbourly places, especially in small towns. Let’s all hope, no matter what the outcome, that these community connections won’t be permanently severed.