A group of Beamsville residents are prepared to take proponents of a West Lincoln wind farm to court. While they aren’t opposed to the storeys-high towers being erected in West Lincoln, they are opposed to plans to install 80-foot high power lines down Mountainview Road.
The recently incorporated Mountainview Niagara Escarpment Commission Association has already raised $75,000 which president Harald Thiel says they will use should Niagara Region Wind Corporation move ahead with installing a connection line down Mountainview Road in Beamsville.
“It’s a shame that we, as citizens, have to spend our own hard-earned money to defend our property rights,” said Thiel, owner of Hidden Bench Vineyards and Winery, located just off Mountainview Road. “But we intend to do so. We’ve hired a law firm.”
The citizen’s group isn’t the only entity fighting the proposal. Lincoln council has also expressed its opposition to the plan, and the Niagara Escarpment Commission has retained a consultant, at the expense of NRWC, to peer review the study “to identify options that do not require the installation of a power line down the face of the escarpment.”
Despite the NEC review, NRWC is moving forward with Mountainview as the preferred route to connect the 230-megawatt wind farm to the Beach Transfer Station in Hamilton, council heard from Randi Rahamim, project spokesperson, at Monday’s corporate priorities meeting.
“It’s the route the project team prefers,” Rahamim said adding NRWC is “fully committed” to working with the escarpment commission.
That news angered some members of council, who had already expressed their opposition to placing the power lines on Mountainview at a June meeting.
“You heard loud and clear, Mountainview is not an option for us,” said Coun. Rob Foster, suggesting NRWC look at Thirty Road. “This is not us being NIMBY (not in my backyard) there is a better route. We made it very clear last time.”
For Coun. Rob Condotta there is only one viable option – burying the lines.
“To tell you the truth, we really don’t care about the costs,” said Condotta in response to a comment from NRWC that burying the lines is cost prohibitive. “You are putting something on the escarpment that is going to ruin it. We don’t care abut the costs. Those are there for life. My great, great grand children don’t want to look at it. Bury it.”
Coun. JD Pachereva said NRWC had an opportunity to “do the right thing” by listening to council and coming back with alternatives.
“I’d like to see you come back (with an alternative route) when the review is complete, even if it is in your favour,” Pachereva said. “You can see that people don’t want this.”
Those same feelings were expressed by all of council in a June resolution which requested the NEC to conduct a peer review, which both NEC staff and board members supported.
“NEC staff is concerned that there is potential for a negative impact on the open landscape character and natural scenery of the Niagara Escarpment as well as negative impact on the vegetation and the properties along the proposed route,” reads a June report from Nancy Mott-Allen, senior strategic advisor for the NEC.
It’s that impact that has residents up in arms.
“Green energy not only has to be green, but it has to respect green space and what is a recognized biosphere,” said Thiel. “We’re not against the wind farm. We just feel the connection of the wind farm needs to be done in a respectful manner. It doesn’t necessarily need to cross the escarpment.”
Residents can preview the draft plans for both the transmission lines and proposed wind farm at an open house NRWC is hosting Sept. 20 from 5-8 p.m. at Smithville Christian High School, 6488 Smithville Townline Rd. The plan is also available on NRWC’s website, www.nrwc.ca, and hard copies are available at town halls in Grimsby, Lincoln and West Lincoln.