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A new argument vs. Big Thunder wind farm

Opponents of the proposed Big Thunder wind park are looking to history for more reasons why they say the project shouldn’t go forward at its current location atop the Nor’Wester Mountains.
On Thursday, the Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee held a rally on Loch Lomond Road to remind the community that Horizon Wind is still planning to move forward with the project.
“We want to remind the community that Horizon hasn’t gone away and they continue their project even in opposition from our community of Thunder Bay, the Municipality of Neebing and Fort William First Nation,” said committee member Irene Bond.
The wind farm opponents have cited environmental concerns, health concerns and threatened property values as primary reasons why the project shouldn’t go forward in its current form.
Now they are looking to the past, arguing that the Loch Lomond watershed is protected land.
“It’s been protected for over 100 years,” Bond said.
“We know how important water is. The Loch Lomond watershed is a valuable source and we don’t want it destroyed and want to protect it.”
She said the protection of the land dates back to the 1920s and while the committee has the details of an agreement between the province and the former city of Fort William, it is waiting for the appropriate time to present information that they say will bring various organizations, including the province, back to the table.
The committee unveiled a symbolic sign Thursday on Loch Lomond Road that states the land is protected and should not be destroyed.
Coincidently, David Zurawel, regional director of the Canadian Wind Energy Association, is in the region this week to celebrate the opening of Enbridge’s Greenwich Wind Farm near Dorion. The opening is set for today, Global Wind Day.
Zurawel said wind energy projects help create thousands of jobs for an area, adding that the wind farm near Dorion is a perfect example of the positive spinoffs that are created.
He said the majority of skilled labour, and raw materials and supplies for the Greenwich farm came out of, and benefitted Thunder Bay.
As for the proposed Big Thunder wind park, Zurawel said there are always two sides to a project and it is up to both to have an open dialogue.
“It’s only through having those discussions that people can understand each other and we can make projects like this more successful,” he said.
Bond stressed that many opponents of the proposed park are not opposed to wind power, just the location of this project.
“We are not all against wind,” she said. “But this is so obviously the wrong location.”
Bond and other members of the committee say the fight is not over and support is growing throughout the community as more people learn about the issues.
“This land has history,” she said.
“It is historically and culturally significant land that should not have been considered in the first place.”