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Citizens bring turbine fight to northern peninsula

The push to stop the construction of industrial wind turbines on the Bruce Peninsula made its way to Northern Bruce Peninsula council on Monday.

Citizens opposed to wind farms being built on the peninsula packed the council chambers on Monday afternoon, asking council to pass a resolution opposing turbines in the municipality and to notify the province of their decision. A similar motion was passed at South Bruce Peninsula council after the council chamber was filled to capacity in Wiarton on Sept. 18.

On Monday, Northern Bruce Peninsula received the presentation from representatives of the Bruce Peninsula Wind Turbine Action Group, but put off making a decision on their recommendation until the next council meeting on Oct. 9, when an official motion on the matter will come before council.

Mayor Milt McIver said because there was no motion on the agenda on Monday, the municipality’s procedural bylaw requires a notice of motion to be tabled to be voted on at the next meeting.

McIver said council listened the the delegation and feels concerns about preserving the natural beauty of the peninsula are legitimate.

“Over the years there has been a lot of effort to preserve the Bruce Peninsula in lots of aspects, the Niagara Escarpment, Parks Canada, Ontario government, Nature Conservancy of Canada, all those organizations have worked to preserve the Bruce here,” said McIver. “The rural landscape is a part of it as well. I think their concerns are legitimate for sure.”
McIver said his personal position on turbines will be made known on Oct. 9.
“Really there is not much in our jurisdiction anyway in regards to the Green Energy Act,” said McIver. “It will be a position that council will take so we will see what happens.”
Miller Lake resident Shirley Teasdale, a spokeswoman for the BPWTAG, said the organization has grown exponentially from a small working group when it was formed almost four years ago. Many of those members were in the council chambers on Monday.
“We felt we presented an excellent case, but the result wasn’t quite what we were asking for,” said Teasdale. “We had very supportive attendees and they wanted a resolution to be voted on right now.”
Teasdale said council was receptive of the group and is hopeful they will back the group, which has also gathered more than 5,300 signatures on a petition asking the provincial government to immediately suspend any expansion of industrial wind turbines on the peninsula.
“We did not restrict it to people who live here,” Teasdale said of the petition. “We have asked cottagers to sign it and visitors who love the Bruce to sign it. Five thousand, three hundred is a heck of a lot of signatures and a strong message that is going to Queen’s Park and our council.”
Teasdale said the peninsula is not a good place to put up turbines, mostly for the impact they will have on wildlife and the tourism industry.
“We are 10 (kilometres) wide at the widest part and you will be able to see them from wherever you are, even if you are way out in Lake Huron or Georgian Bay,” said Teasdale. “Our major economy is from tourism and we don’t see tourists coming here if they are going to have to look at these things.”
At least two companies have announced plans to erect turbines on the Bruce Peninsula. Tribute Resources has said it wants to put up 125 turbines in South Bruce Peninsula, while Preneal Canada hopes to put up to 75 turbines in Northern Bruce Peninsula. Teasdale said their group knows of three developers who want to bring between 200 and 275 turbines to the Bruce Peninsula, depending on the size of the towers.
“We feel that we will lose our economy,” said Teasdale. “We have a night sky program that we feel is fairly unique. We have millions of people on our doorstep and they don’t get to see the stars like we do up here.”
McIver said the only turbine company that has been to Northern Bruce Peninsula expressing interest in putting turbines on the peninsula is Preneal Canada.
“Other than that they have not made an application yet,” said McIver.