Chants supporting wind power and shouting and horns honking against County wind developments could be heard down main street and around the school yard as 200 people came out to voice their side of the issue.
The second of two open houses hosted by wind developer WDP Canada was aimed at informing the public about the status and workings of the 29-turbine plan set for various private properties in the South Marysburgh area.
The project – The White Pines – is at the point of submitting its Renewable Energy Approval application to the Ministry of Environment. Before submitting the request WPD is required to meet with the public to show report findings relating to health, environmental and habitat impacts, archaeology and heritage preservations construction methods.
WPD, along with 40 County leaseholders, is in the midst of a $17-million lawsuit as a group of 20 residents claim turbines will impact their property values and overall quality of life.
Outside the school the two sides chanted both in favour and in opposition of the project.
Tim Rorabeck is a South Marysburgh leaseholder working with WPD to construct a turbine on this land.
“Whether the windmills go or not I believe in them whole-heartedly and I always have,” said Rorabeck. “I do have property rights I should be able to do what I want on it. What I’m doing is legal and correct and within the letter of the law I should be able to do that. Some of the people in those groups who oppose feel that I do not have those rights.”
When it comes to property rights and values, Lynn Stein said the people who are trying to sell their homes in turbine-designated areas are having extreme difficulties.
“My clients come from the city they are looking for a place to get away,” said Stein, who has been a Remax real estate agent in the County for eight years. “When they want beautiful waterfront in the south of the County, they will not look … they say ‘show me somewhere else, I know the water is beautiful but I don’t want to go there. I will not live anywhere near wind turbines.’ The people who have their houses for sale are in trouble. They can’t sell them. They are just sitting there.”
Property values weren’t the only thing on everyone’s mind.
“I’m for wind energy but in the right places,” said Charlie Vincent, a Milford resident. “I’m against any democratic movement through the Green Energy Act that takes away our right in the County to make our own decisions.”
Eric Schenkman, of Milford, agreed with Vincent. Schenkman said he’s not against renewable energy but he’s concerned South Marysburgh residents are being sold out by the province to multinational corporations, especially if the power generated isn’t staying local.
“If the projects are not staying local and you can’t get energy from it, then it’s not giving back to the community,” said Schenkman. “We want more diversified renewable energy initiatives where all of us get (the ability) to put it back into the grid. We’re saying that there is a better way and the process of democracy is questionable here because if you try and find out what’s going on, you can’t get answers.”
Kevin Surette, communications manager for WPD, said company staff is always available to answer questions from the public.
“We’ve always acknowledged and know that people are going to have emotions on both sides of the debate,” said Surette. “That is why we present the details of our project and how it plans to proceed showing how we will meet all of the requirements we are required to meet.”
Gabe Platt, 19, said WPD is going above these expectations by ensuring a future for him and other young people in the County.
“When I bring up the issue around everybody, I know the feeling is the same,” said Platt. “We all grew up here and we love the land as much as everybody else but it’s unfortunate that there is nothing really here that can keep us and can sustain us. A lot of my friends are off in university now and there’s nothing really here to bring us back to obtain jobs in the future and this (wind) is just one step in the right direction in terms of renewable energy.”
The MOE will look at the proposal to verify the reports are correct. It the project gets the green light it will be posted on the ministry’s Environmental Bill of Rights for 30 days for the public can comment.
If approved,WPD could start building next spring or summer.
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