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Residents heated about turbines in Fisherville

Industrial Wind Turbines (IWT) was the main topic of discussion at the Year in Review open house in Fisherville.

Residents filled the Fisherville Community Centre for the last open house that took place on November 29.

Haldimand County clearly saved the big one for last, as Mayor Ken Hewitt and Councillor Fred Morison were met with angry residents in Fisherville – many of them, it appeared, had been gearing up for the open house with IWT protesting signs on hand and speeches to the mayor prepared.

The construction of NextEra’s Grand Renewable Energy Park just added more fuel to the fire with residents using the open house as one last plea to the mayor and council to stop the turbines.

“We want to say that we’re disappointed. We are asking for your help and that’s why we’re here,” said a resident, pleading that if Haldimand County can find a loop hole, they should take advantage of it.

Not only was the meeting a desperate plea to council, but in a sense, it was a warning to the mayor and councillor about what they should expect in the coming months.

A couple of residents stood up and said they planned to appeal their property assessments to MPAC believing that the turbines will significantly decrease the value of their homes. Others warned they only planned to pay what they thought was fair on their property taxes and nothing more.

Hewitt responded by saying that no one knows yet how these turbines would affect property values – not even MPAC.

“I find it hard to believe that you don’t know. If you don’t know, then all of this should be stopped,” said a resident.

Those at the open house still felt betrayed about the Samsung commercial, which Hewitt admitted had been a mistake. Residents also felt the Community Vibrancy Fund (CVF) agreement made between the county and the proponents was a stab in the back to the community and made the county appear as though it fully supported the projects.

Councillor Morison said when he was elected, he decided very early on that if the county had to get these “machines,” then they better get some money out of them.

That answer wasn’t good enough for the residents, who said they didn’t want the “blood money.”

They instead suggested the county use the money from the vibrancy fund to hire itself some protesters to occupy the turbine sites for the next 20 years.

One resident, who was also at the Townsend and Caledonia open houses, mentioned the situation in Mississauga and Oakville where the residents band together to fight against the proposed natural gas plants and won.

A resident stood up to challenge the mayor and council to go on record and say council will make an effort to fight the turbines. It was a request that Hewitt was not able to do. He said that the other municipalities that have passed moratoriums or bylaws are knowingly giving their residents false hope. He added that the other municipalities, which have passed a two-kilometer setback, are being challenged and the bylaw is just “smoke and mirrors.”

He said Haldimand County didn’t want to take that easy route.

Haldimand Wind Concerns (HWC) were also at the meeting. As Hewitt and Morison gave the county’s Year in Review, the group gave theirs with Betty Ortt, secretary at HWC, stating the long timeline HWC has gone through in appealing the wind projects in the county.

“We’ve had a very busy and costly year with no help from council,” said Ortt. “Haldimand County needs to stand up and fight for its residents, and you did not.”