The Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee is urging area residents to put ink to paper to counter a new publicity campaign by Horizon Wind, promoting the benefits of its Big Thunder Wind Park in Thunder Bay.
The group issued a “call to action” on its website this week aimed at Horizon’s postcard campaign and contest. The committee is urging area residents to fill out contest postcards, stating their reasons for not supporting the wind farm project.
Committee president John Beals said Wednesday that taking action on the postcard campaign is largely borne out of frustration with Horizon’s latest publicity drive.
“It’s a sad day in Ontario when a developer has to resort (to contests to get its message across),” he said.
Horizon Wind launched the contest last month, offering people who fill out a postcard about the wind project, an opportunity to win a trip for two to the company’s Maryvale Wind Farm in Nova Scotia. Entrants who return a completed postcard, with contact information are eligible to win, regardless of their position on the Big Thunder Wind Park, the company said.
Postcards must be returned by this Friday to be eligible to win the trip, or $100 in cash.
Beals says “it has almost (come down to) a bit of frustration, in how do you respond to this . . . (Horizon’s) newspaper and radio ads, stating there’s nothing wrong with the project; and you can win a free trip to Nova Scotia and view a pristine area with wind turbines. It’s pretty exasperating, that they’re not dealing with truths (about the project’s impact on the local escarpment).
“This land is protected property and can’t be developed on,” Beals said, noting that “quite a few of citizens are upset at the antics of Horizon.
“No matter how they gloss it up, the reality is that it’s the wrong location. It has nothing to do with whether wind power is correct or not – it’s the wrong location.”
On its website, savethenorwesters.com, the committee lists 10 reasons people should include on their postcards as to why the wind farm shouldn’t be built on the Nor’wester Mountain Escarpment, including: lower property values, destruction of wildlife habitat and sugar maple forests, and municipal and First Nations resolutions opposing the project.
Horizon Wind director of community affairs Kathleen MacKenzie disagreed with the committee’s assessment of the project and negative “call to action” to the company’s postcard campaign, saying “the author (of the website posting), Irene Bond, is clearly passionate, if misinformed, about the Big Thunder Wind Park.
“However, Horizon is pleased that dissenters like Ms. Bond are joining hundreds of wind energy supporters in returning the postcards,” she said, adding that “we think visiting the Horizon wind farm in Nova Scotia will convince even the most skeptical Thunder Bay resident that wind power is safe, clean and desirable.
“Because we can’t take the whole town to Nova Scotia, we urge residents to visit our website, www.bigthunderwindpark.ca, to get the facts about Big Thunder Wind Park and wind energy, to see the many studies that have been done, and to assure themselves that the watershed, the sugar maples, the peregrine falcons and even the Loch Lomond ski area will be protected,” MacKeanzie added.
Horizon Wind submitted its Request for Environmental Approval (REA) for its proposed Big Thunder Wind Park last month.
MacKenzie said then, that the company is “hopeful that residents will be pleased with the REA submission and how it directly responds to their feedback.
“We have listened and consulted extensively and are now looking to move this project to the next step, working together with the community.
“The environmental process has been very thorough to protect public interests and the environment,” she added.
The wind park will pay property taxes to the Municipality of Neebing, lease fees to the City of Thunder Bay, and provide clean energy to 9,000 homes in the region, the company says.
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