Imagine 38 industrial wind turbines being erected in Toronto’s High Park, each taller than Ottawa’s Peace Tower or the Royal York Hotel, and sitting atop massive concrete bases, on land that had been cleared and bulldozed flat. Plus, imagine the erection of sub-stations and transmission lines to connect the turbines with the hydro grid. In other words: An industrial wasteland from Bloor Street down several kilometers to the Queensway.
Of course, this could never happen – because the justifiable outrage and uproar of urban Torontonians would reduce Queen’s Park to metaphorical rubble.
Why then does nobody – except local residents – appear to care about an even worse disaster developing in Prince Edward County, Ont., a mere two hours drive east of Toronto, a community dependent on agriculture, tourism, small businesses and artisans of every persuasion, including the famous Sandbanks and a burgeoning wine and hospitality industry?
The first nine of the 38 turbines we’re supposed to get could come from Gilead Power, to be installed on Ontario Crown land administered by the Ministry of Natural Resources, smack in the middle of an internationally recognized bird area and athwart
the largest migration path of birds, bats, raptors and butterflies in the province. On the ground, there are at least three recognized endangered species. Many of the flying migrants will be slaughtered by the massive blades, and the land animals endangered or harassed by preparatory bulldozing.
Apart from all of this being an egregious breach of basic common sense and of the Ministry’s own mission statement, it would represent a conflict of interest whereby Ontario issues licences to Gilead to operate, in exchange for which it receives from Gilead annual payments (derived from public funds) as rent for each turbine, for a possible maximum of 35 years.
The next 29 turbines are promoted by WPD Canada, owned in Germany. They would blanket the south part of the County, placing virtually every house there within 2 km of a turbine.
Ontario’s Green Energy Act overrides any municipal or community input or control, and is stacked in favour of wind developers. Its authors seem not to have cared about basic rights. They just bash ahead despite evidence that turbines provide little in the way of jobs, reduce property values, make some homes unsaleable, affect the health and social well-being of locals and kill migrating birds and endangered species. Ontario “green energy” policies promote all this – despite the fact that turbines can’t exist without massive subsidization by all Ontario residents through taxes and an add-on to each hydro bill. Our descendants here in Prince Edward County will inherit a devastated local economy, landscape and way of life, not to mention an increasing (province-wide) financial burden to pay for wind-company profits.
Garth Manning lives in Prince Edward County. He is a retired lawyer, and a former President of the Ontario Bar Association. He has never been a member of any political party.
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