Niagara Regional Wind Corp. will not be at West Lincoln council Monday night.
The wind company, which has plans to erect 77, three megaWatt industrial wind turbines mainly in West Lincoln, informed council it no longer plans to attend the Jan. 28 council meeting via letter dated Jan. 18.
“It is becoming apparent that council meetings discussing wind energy projects have evolved in a way that is not conducive to achieving productive dialogue between the Wind Action Group, Council, local citizens and ourselves,” Mervin Croghan, NRWC chairman and CEO wrote in the letter addressed to clerk Carolyn Langley. “As pointed out by the Mayor at the meeting, you have other business to conduct in your community and your time and that of your staff is being seriously challenged. We are also very busy working hard to structure a project that your community can be proud of and benefit from.
“We do not believe that a council presentation at this point would be productive or result in meaningful dialogue,” the letter continued.
Because NRWC had contacted the township to be on the Jan. 28 agenda, CAO Derrick Thomson, under direction previously given to him by council, booked South Lincoln High School for the meeting. He said Monday it was too late to cancel the rental and that Monday’s meeting would still be held at the high school.
NRWC last appeared before council at the Sept. 10 planning/building/environmental committee. The appointment was not mandated by the Green Energy Act and was to provide council with an overall update on the project, spokesperson Randi Rahamim said at that meeting.
Prior to the NRWC being able to start its presentation on Sept. 10, council heard from 12 residents opposing the NRWC project as well as a smaller, five-turbine project proposed by IPC Energy.
NRWC had tried to get on the agenda for the Dec. 10 council meeting, to promote a job fair, but was turned down after staff were unable to secure a larger venue for the meeting. Council, in November, gave permission to Thompson to use his discretion to secure alternate locations for committee or council meetings that have items on the agenda relating to wind turbines that could result in higher than average attendance. This is due largely in part to the fact that council chambers can hold about 55 people and there is no speaker system in the hallway. Seeing as a presentation from NRWC would likely draw hundreds to township hall, as it has done in the past, Thomson said tried to secure the high school but was unable to do so.
Rahamim said NRWC advised the township it intended to use the 10-minute public comment section of the council agenda to discuss the job fair, which was taking place Dec. 17.
“We advised them of our intention to speak at council,” said Rahamim via email Tuesday.
When hundreds showed up at township hall Dec. 10, a motion was put forward to adjourn the meeting and reschedule. This meant Rahamim, and dozens of residents on both sides of the industrial wind turbine debate, were unable to voice their concerns. That meeting was rescheduled to Jan. 9 at South Lincoln High School.
No representatives of NRWC spoke at the meeting though several residents took the opportunity to speak against turbines.
Rahamim said the decision not attend next week’s meeting was made jointly with township staff.
“Both of us felt that our presentation would not be productive or conducive to any meaningful dialogue at this time,” she said.
The public, however, will have a chance to speak with NRWC representatives at a series of upcoming open houses. The purpose of these meetings will be to present the findings of the Draft Renewable Energy Approval reports, and to present proposed revisions to the draft site plan. The West Lincoln meeting will take place Wednesday, Feb. 6 at the Wellandport Community Centre, 5042 Canborough Rd. This meeting has extended hours from 4:30-10 p.m.
Open houses will be held Tuesday, Feb. 5 in Grimsby and Lincoln – from 1-4 p.m. at the Peach King Centre and 5:30-8:30 at Bled Hall. Earlier on Wednesday, there will be an open house at Old Pelham Town Hall in Pelham from 1-4 p.m. and on Thursday, meetings in Wainfleet, from 1-4 p.m. at Firefighter’s Memorial Community Hall, and Haldimand County from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Lowbanks Community Centre.
NRWC will be in attendance at the Feb. 11 planning and development committee meeting at South Lincoln High School. Township staff are expected to present a peer review on the NRWC project. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.
Despite NRWC no longer speaking at Monday’s meeting, the West Lincoln Wind Action Group is still planning to attend said a group spokesperson. Shellie Correia said the group’s chairman, Neil Switzer, has a number of recommendations he wishes council to pass in regards to industrial wind turbines.
The group has a notice on its website of the Jan. 28 meeting, urging residents to attend.
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