Renewable energy vs. responsible Aboriginal Government part three: M’Chigeeng vs. Wikwemikong blowing in opposite firections
Chief of the Anishinabek First Nation M’Chigeeng, Joe Hare, will host an event on Manitoulin Island tomorrow in northern Ontario attended by invited guests including Minister of Energy Chris Bentley, David Suzuki and Kristopher Stevens executive director of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association. The event, which celebrates the development of two wind turbines on band land of 2 MW each, has been coordinated to coincide with the Global Wind Day 2012.
The official M’Chigeeng event will be protested by members of the Manitoulin Coalition for Safe Energy Alternatives (MCSEA) and Wikwemikong Elders, Community Members and Youth. MCSEA’s announcement discussing the protest is attached at the end of this post.
There are serious questions about the propriety of M’Chigeeng wind power development.
- Does Chief Joe Hare or his family members receive the lease payments for the turbines?
- Once the turbines start generating and payments received, where does all the money go?
- Why was Chief Joe Hare locked out of his band office last month?
- When and how will Chief Joe Hare deliver on his promise, issued during the last band council election, that the wind power development will provide free power to all band households?
- Was Chief Joe Hare aware that Franklin Paibomsai (AKA Shining Turtle) was impersonating a public official while Hare and Turtle were both the signing the wind power development agreement between Northland Power and Mnidoo Mninising Power in February 10, 2010 to build the McLean’s Mountain Wind Farm?
- Are any M’Chigeeng elders being paid to attend the June 15th celebrations?
- Do M’Chigeeng residents opposed to the industrialization of reserve lands through wind power have any reason to fear loss of opportunities for band-controlled employment, housing or other services?
- How much money and/or loan guarantees from the provincial and federal governments is involved in the M’Chigeeng wind project and its associated infrastructure?
- How much money has 3G Energy made off the M’Chigeeng project?
In contrast to wind development at M’Chigeeng, the Manitoulin aboriginal community of Wikwemikong has taken the opposite course. In 2011, political activism by members of Wikwemikong Elders, Community Members and Youth caused the band council to reverse a previous decision to develop a wind power project once envisioned at 200 MW. Wikwemikong Elders, Community Members and Youth induced the local band council to reiterate the ban on wind development again this Spring.
(Statement issued by Manitoulin Coalition for Safe Energy Alternatives, June 14, 2012)
MCSEA and Wikwemikong Elders, Community Members and Youth – groups well
known for their opposition to Industrial Wind Turbine Projects on
Manitoulin Island – will be protesting the opening of the M’Chigeeng
industrial wind power project on June 15.
M’Chigeeng community members who have concerns with the project but also
have concerns about possible repercussions from M’Chigeeng Band Council
should the opponents be seen protesting have specifically requested MCSEA
and Wikwemikong citizens raise awareness, circulate information to the
public, and conduct a peaceful protest.
The Wikwemikong group has restored democracy in their community and
repeatedly halted industrial wind turbines by successfully petitioning
their council. The democratic success of the Wikwemikong citizens
contrast starkly the lack of democratic rights of other rural residents
of Ontario who have had their right stripped away under the Green Energy
and Green Economy Act.
The concerns of many M’Chigeeng citizens include the potential for
additional turbines to be added in future, the loss of traditional
hunting grounds, forest loss, the siting of the turbines in key habitat,
loss of reserve lands for productive use due to the minimum 550 meter
provincial danger zone setback from each turbine, and the concern that
even this exclusion distance is totally inadequate to mitigate impacts.
Wind opposition groups worldwide have generally recommended setbacks from
residences of 2 kilometers based on peer reviewed evidence. Worldwide
setback info can be found in this link.
Even with a minimum four kilometer setback around each turbine, a lot of
the M’Chigeeng community’s limited land base will be lost to productive
use. Key habitat will be impacted for at least one generation.
With other turbines planned, there is a clear need for full consultation
with all members of the community.
With heavy government promotion, the availability of particularly massive
subsidies to aboriginal businesses, and less stringent rules on land use,
the exploitation of reserve land for wind power development is under
particularly acute pressure.
Some community members also have concerns over the visual impacts,
especially now that the size of the turbines is now evident to all. The
wind development has also closed down a local hiking trail.
Although community members were promised free hydro if the project moved
ahead, the exact opposite has taken place with electricity costs now
skyrocketing. Since wind power always requires backup generation when
there is no wind or the wind is blowing too hard, the rate impacts of
wind power are not limited to the high purchase cost.
With David Suzuki and Liberal Provincial Energy Minister Chris Bentley
attending these ceremonies and promoting First Nation Land use loss
perhaps they should also be aware of the divided communities these
projects are creating throughout Ontario and First Nation Lands where
questions are raised to who truly benefits from these projects and how
much oversight has been involved for environmental impacts and community
consultation on both sides of the issue.
We will be protesting at a house across from Paul’s corner store in
M’Chigeeng beside the Lafarge cement plant on Hwy 540 beginning around 10
am. Bring your signs and placards if available should you wish to join
The OPP liaison team has been notified who are working with the UCCMM
Annisnaabe police to maintain a peaceful gathering for all.
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