Manitoulin Island will never be the same. When I read the headline in the local press that the McLean’s Mountain wind turbine project has been given approval, my heart sank a little.
The provincial government has given the project the green light.
The Green Energy portfolio is turning out to be a huge mistake. Gas plants are costing taxpayers millions of dollars and the wind and solar companies are being hugely subsidized. Wind companies like Northland Power are being promised 15 cents/kilowatt and the province still decided that Manitoulin Island is prime land to be exploited.
Of course, we don’t have the votes to stop it, unlike the gas plants being stopped before the last election, so why would the Liberals care? They seem to think that if they keep giving Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci money to hand out in Sudbury, that makes up for all the crap they have loaded on the people of the North. You can bet when everyone starts adding up all of the costs, both financially and emotionally, the Green Energy Act has inflicted on the tax payers, those politicians will be long gone and no one will be held accountable.
All I see in our future if more turbines get built is tourism being destroyed and the rest of the Island suffering so a few people can make money. I don’t see any more jobs other then the initial ones when they are tearing up the trees on McLean’s Mountain and after they are built. The farmers who signed over their land to make some bucks, and of course Northland Power, will benefit, but you are fooling yourselves if you think this will benefit the rest of the Island.
Manitoulin Coalition for Safe Energy is appealing the decision. However, Northland Power can continue to decimate the Mountain while the appeal is being heard. It’s fascinating to me how the rules are all stacked to benefit the power companies. According to one of the directors of the coalition, Raymond Beaudry, the local communities gets locked out of the process.
Although groups or individuals can appeal the approval, it is stacked against them and in favour of the turbine companies. How can the government expect local community groups and individuals to have the funds to properly appeal these kinds of decisions? They are given a tight deadline to have all of the materials in place and some have hired lawyers to help, but that has put many anti-turbine groups into huge debt throughout the province. Given how expensive it is to launch an appeal, the coalition is looking for donations. More than 80 municipalities have asked the government for a moratorium on the turbines and Premier Dalton McGuinty and his energy ministers have not paid attention, except to call anyone who is against the Green Energy Act NIMBYism.
The date for the preliminary hearing for the appeal is Dec. 18 at 1 p.m. at the recreation centre in NEMI. Anyone who wishes to participate in the hearing must provide their request in writing (by email) to the case co-ordinator by 4 p.m. no later than Dec. 14. The tribunal says it will “consider only whether engaging in the renewable energy project in accordance with the renewable energy approval will cause serious harm to human health or serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment.”
It also has the right to turn down a request to participate in the hearing. The main hearing will be held Jan. 10 at 10 a.m., same location.
Not one appeal has been granted in the province since the green energy debacle has been introduced, so I am not holding my breath that it will work.
Manitoulin Island is one of the most bio-diverse and beautiful places in the world but it’s not going to remain that way for long with a government like the Liberals who have already decided that the North doesn’t matter.
Ruth Farquhar is a freelance writer based on Manitoulin Island.
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