At Thursday night’s White Pines Wind Project open house, the number of people in attendance to oppose wind turbines in Prince Edward County far outnumbered the number looking to welcome them. But though the pro wind camp was small, its words were powerful for one life-long County man who observed the two camps wave their placards, chant and march, as the open house continued inside the high school auditorium.
“That seemed so unreal to me,” the South Marysburgh resident said. “The topping on the cake was (a man) telling me to move back to Toronto! He was in my homeroom a couple of times at least (here in Picton). I’ve read that the County will never be the same, now I’m afraid I believe it.”
“Many were there in solidarity with the residents of South Marysburgh to demonstrate their strong opposition to a 29-turbine industrial installation that will forever change the face of the County,” said Karen Empringham.
The County Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy (CCSAGE) launched an extensive campaign with its website, flyers, posters and advertisements. The group organized a motorcade of about 50 vehicles honking and beeping while passengers shouted and waved signs pleading for a turbine-free County. The drivers met at the Waring House, paraded through town and drove by the high school a few times.
“It should be our right, in the County, to make our own decisions,” said Charlie Vincent, of Milford, who dressed as a town crier, rang his bell and read a proclamation. “And that’s why I’m here. Other than that, I have a pretty voice.”
He said this last open house that wpd is required to host is a mockery.
“I call it a mockery because it’s not a meeting where you can raise concerns, it’s a bunch of tables where you look at exhibits. It’s political because McGuinty’s government has sponsored the Green Energy Act – it has stripped all municipalities of the right to vote yes or no. And this company is about to seek final approval to go ahead with a good number of turbines in the area in which I live.”
Vincent does not count himself a member of any of the wind groups in the County and noted he supports wind energy – “in the right places”.
“I share the concerns. I know many of them. I don’t agree with with everything all of them say but I do agree with the anti-democratic concern that we have. If this today, what tomorrow? And I won’t even bring up the teachers who are going through the same anti-democratic issues. It’s just further proof that we are losing control.”
Setting up for his Town Crier gig, he noted he was the “President of South Marysburgh where all this is happening – at least most of it.
“Oyez, oyez, good citizens who desire democracy and honesty from our politicians. Welcome to this mockery of a meeting at the White Pines open house where there’s no opportunity for all who come to gather collectively, to listen and to speak. Even if our collective voice has been stifled by our host’s design, we can still make our concerns heard and trust that our public voice will be heard and repeated by Ontario citizens who are concerned about self-serving politicians and the increasingly anti-democratic decisions being made in the halls of provincial power.
“If you approve of wind turbines, tell White Pines so. If you share the concerns and opposition of so many of us, tell them so as well. Know that over 540 landowners of South Marysburgh – much affected by having these great towers beset upon them – have voted 90 per cent against their imposition. Know that the vote was not about the virtues of wind power. It was about the stripping of our rights, and of our local municipality, to be able to make decisions about actions that affect our lives, our lands and our livings. The Green Energy Act is not green when it defeats democracy. The Green Energy is black.”
Deborah Hudson, of Black Creek, disagrees.
“It is really important to reduce global warming, to start with new technologies to generate our electricity. We can’t keep on with coal fired. Have you noticed the smog lately? This heat wave, and even with the south winds, the air’s not blue, it’s smoggy. I don’t remember that when I was a kid and I was born and raised here. I want to see it change and how we generate energy needs. Feel this wind. It’s the perfect place for wind renewable energy.”
Angela Lammes, of Royal Road, was in attendance in support of wind turbines. A turbine is designated for her land, and though they sold the property for other reasons, “we will still get 50 per cent of the income.
“My (Earth Day) T-shirt says it all. We have to stop global warming and wind, solar power is the way to go. It’s 27 degrees at 5:30 p.m. and we’re in a drought and there might be a level 3 low water issued. We have to do something.”
“Those who oppose the project may be a bit more vocal than those who are supporting it but everybody has a chance to have their say,” said Kevin Surette, wpd’s communications manager. “We’ve done the studies and prepared the reports we have to submit as part of the application, so this second open house is presenting to the public what those reports say… and that’s the purpose of what tonight is, for people to provide feedback whether it’s positive or negative.”
The ministry of the environment will review all the reports and when satisfied, will post to its Environmental Bill of Rights website for 30 days for further public comment. If approved, wpd could begin building next year.
Wpd will also back leaseholders facing a $17-million lawsuit from a group of more than 20 residents who are seeking damages related to reduced property values, an inability to sell properties located within 2km. The plaintiffs also seek punitive damages from the defendants and an injunction that would stop the project from moving forward.
“We were surprised that they would include the landowners. They just felt this was a way they could help sustain the family farm, saw it as an additional income. They really believe in what they are doing, that’s why they signed on.”
Surette said wpd is evaluating the documentation to decide next steps.
“We do intend to defend ourselves vigorously and as a corporate citizen we decided to let our participating landowners know that we are supporting them as much as we can in this lawsuit. We are working with them, not only did we provide them independent legal counsel, we have assumed all of the legal risk associated with the project. That’s some relief, but it’s still an issue for them. We want to make this process as easy and as quick for them as we possibly can.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding