Referring to her family as “north receptor 102”, Michelle Stacheruk-Prince, holding six-month-old baby Brielle, captured the emotion of hundreds of people at the final Settlers Landing Wind Park public meeting Thursday night in Pontypool.
Stacheruk-Prince lives on a 100-acre farm at 492 Wilmont Rd, not far from Sprott Power Corp,’s proposed five industrial wind turbines.
“I want her (Brielle) to grow up there and love it too,” Stacheruk-Prince said of the family farm. She said they live in rural Pontypool because of the natural beauty of the area. Now, she said they will have direct views of the turbines.
She pleaded with Sprott officials to find people who believe in the project as much as they do and “take it to them.”
“We may not have a lot of money . . . but I’ll do everything I can to ensure she’s not ‘north receptor 102’,” Stacheruk-Prince said of her daughter.
Ward 16 Coun. Heather Stauble said 600 people had signed a petition opposing wind farms in the last week but despite the obvious message that they are not welcome in the former Manvers Township, the companies are proceeding.
Sprott officials faced another emotional, angry and well-informed crowd as they fulfilled their final meeting obligation to the government of Ontario.
Resident Cindy Sutch asked if the panel from Sprott knew the percentage of community members opposed to the project and if they thought it was a willing community. “It certainly doesn’t appear that way,” one official said. “Will you still force your project on us? Yes or no,” she continued.
Despite the fact many of the officials’ answers could not be heard due to a cacophony of yelling and whistles, it appeared their answer was yes.
Sutch said the community had been dealing with the issue for three years and felt stressed and harassed by wind companies. She said mothers were in tears and fathers pacing floors at night. She said “this is not right” and they were “sick of it” . . . “this project has two people who want it. Nobody else.”
Stauble said the City of Kawartha Lakes had asked for hydrological studies as they are concerned about the Oak Ridges Moraine aquifer; noise assessments and maps but were still waiting and had only received the ‘bare minimum’ documentation to date. But she said it was necessary in order for the community to make a proper assessment of the project.
The crowd accused Sprott’s health expert of being a “shill,” questioning much of his work but he said he stood by it. They also supplied their own reports to claim property values would drop. They insisted wind energy was not efficient, to which the panel disagreed.
Sprott president and CEO Jeff Jenner said the reason turbines are not located up north and away from people is “unfortunately it’s not that windy up in the north and there are no transmission lines.”
He said the Liberal government was elected in 2003 on a platform of eliminating coal-fired plants, partially due to health costs. He said there had been an evolution from wood to coal to Hydro to gasoline to nuclear and now wind and solar. He added that when it comes to costs “all energy’s been subsidized as long as we’ve had energy.”
If approved by the Ministry of the Environment, Sprott hopes to have five industrial wind turbines up and running west of the intersection of Hwy 35, between Telecom Rd and Drum Rd by December 2014.
Sweetener doesn’t appear to work
Despite throwing out a sweetener – a promise of more than $8 million in local benefits for Snowy Ridge and Settlers Landing wind projects – Sprott Power got the same chilly reception from hundreds of people who attended the meeting.
The company has promised to form a community liaison committee prior to construction, to improve community relations and so locals can be informed.
They have also pledged to contribute $8 million toward local initiatives over the 20-year life of the the projects. They said there would also be property tax revenue for the City of Kawartha Lakes and local spinoffs from construction and operations.
President and CEO Jeff Jenner said each project would pump $4 million into local coffers – 60% would be spent during the construction phase, buying local services; 20% would be spent on property taxes and 20% on community programs. Jenner estimated it would mean a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year.
Jenner said they are big supporters of all of the communities they are in For example, in Amherst, Nova Scotia, he said they support the hospital and YMCA.
He said here, they would like the community liaison committee involved in where money is spent.
Asked if he thought that would change anyone’s mind in Pontypool, Jenner said “I don’t think it will sway anyone here tonight.”
That was one thing he and Ward 16 Coun. Heather Stauble could agree on.
Stauble said they first heard about this offer at the Dec. 13 meeting. However, she said the company had been “a little vague” about details. She said residents believe most of the money will come from property taxes based on a capped assessment as well as some construction costs. “So it sounds like a lot of money but it really is not much at all,” she said. She added that rent to farmers for using their land for turbines would also go into the figure.
“It was an attempt to make it look like an attractive offer, that people would go weak at the knees at the prospect of $4 million. However, that was not the reception it got,” Stauble said.
She said there was some talk about money going towards local minor hockey, as an example, but Stauble said she knew no one who wanted their child sporting a wind company logo on their hockey jerseys.
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