STAYNER – On Thursday evening at the Stayner Community Centre, the WPD held its second and final information open house for the proposed Fairview Wind Farm project west of Stayner.
A caravan of opposed community members in cars and by tractor and wagon, arrived from Clearview Nurseries at 5:30 p.m. Opposition organizer and nursery owner Kevin Elwood led the group, some hoisting signs reading messages such as “Wind Blows Ill” and “Say No to Wind Turbines”, to the parking lot of the Community Centre for a heavily policed and intense protest rally.
A parade of influential community members and area MPPs such as Jim Wilson and Bruce/Grey’s Bill Walker took to the microphone relaying their support of the opposition movement.
To a crowd of approximately 300, at least half wearing florescent yellow T-shirts with the image of a slashed wind turbine, many areas of concern for the proposal of eight, 500-foot tall wind turbines were addressed. Included was the economic impact to Ontarians for wind farms that according to Nipissing MPP and energy specialist Vic Fedeli, raises our hydro costs and produces a surplus of energy that we can’t use.
“We pay the highest rates for wind. It creates a surplus of energy on the grid that we have to sell to Quebec and the States at a loss,” said Fedeli.
Health study expert and Huron/Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson addressed the issue of public safety. Thompson indicated that the recent peer review health study by Dr. Arlene King, stating that there was no link between wind turbines and health issues, was incomplete. The Federal government’s Health Canada study has yet to be completed, and it is Thompson’s belief that any development of wind farms should be halted pending the results in 2014.
“Exercise your voice because rural Ontario matters,” encouraged Thompson
On the heels of the WPD press conference earlier that day that addressed the safety concerns of Collingwood Regional Airport’s proximity to the project, there was much opposition to the claim by WPD’s aeronautical study that a distance of 3.1 kilometres was a safe distance for aircraft.
Inside the Community Centre, WPD Canada spokespersons manned individual information booths to address the myriad aspects of the proposed project. A comprehensive film outlining the process of wind turbine construction, operation and site development was available for viewing. In addition, WPD’s extensive planning documentation and assessments in the areas of natural heritage, water body, mitigation, health and safety, cultural heritage and archaeological resources, noise impact, aviation, property values, local economy and job opportunities were on display for review.
According to communications manager and WPD spokesperson Kevin Surette, hosting the second open house was a necessary part of the application process of which they are halfway through.
“We have completed all studies and will compile all public feedback which becomes part of the application,” said Surette.
The next step is to submit the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) application to the MOE. The application is then placed on Environmental Registry for a 30-day public review period. After a period of six months to review the application, the MOE posts a decision notice outlining the construction, operation, and decommissioning in consideration of the environment and local community. Following this is an appeals process headed by the Environmental Review Tribunal.
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