One by one, folks on the opposing side of the wind turbine debate walked up to Henry VanRyn’s scale model and stood in awe.
If VanRyn’s model is as accurate as he said it is, the No To Wind group has a dramatic new tool it can use to try to change the minds of people who support building wind turbines in this community.
At nearly 60 centimetres tall, it’s a 1:210 scale model of a farm property with a Niagara Region Wind Corp. turbine on it.
VanRyn was one of about a dozen anti-wind turbine protesters standing outside a public meeting at the Wellandport Community Centre Wednesday night, where the NRWC was presenting its plans and studies to the public for the final time.
“I decided to build this to show the general public the size of this turbine compared to a house,” said VanRyn.
“There’s nothing in Canada (the size) of what they’re proposing for West Lincoln.”
The NRWC wants to build a 77-turbine development that would generate 230MW of power, making it the highest-producing wind farm in the country. With a hub height of between 125 and 135 metres, the turbines would also be the tallest.
After looking at VanRyn’s model herself, NRWC spokeswoman Randi Rahamim said she couldn’t confirm the accuracy of the model, but acknowledged the turbines were quite large.
“They are large structures. We’ve always been clear on their size,” she said. “These are taller because of the wind speed and wind location, and they’re also quieter the higher up you go because the noise source is further from the ground.”
As it’s required to do, the company behind the development is holding a series of public meetings throughout the week across West Niagara. It’s the final step before it can submit its Renewable Energy Approval proposal to the government.
The NRWC wants to start construction this fall to bring the turbines online in 2014.
Rahamim said she expected more people to attend the meeting Wednesday.
“With the level of interest in the project to date, I’m surprised with the turnout,” she said.
Previous council meetings where wind turbines have been discussed have drawn hundreds of people.
Dwight Peacock went to the meeting to ask the developers what they’ll do if the turbines affect television and Internet service, as other turbines have done in parts of Ontario.
“They seem to be receptive,” he said. “They’re taking down our information and saying they’ll get back to us, so we’ll take them at their word.”
The St. Anns man said he doesn’t blame the NRWC for wanting to build.
“They’re just trying to build a wind development,” he said. “You can’t take it out on them. It’s more how it’s being rolled out. (The government) is stripping the power away from individuals.”
Next up for the NRWC is another appearance at West Lincoln township council Monday night, which will again be held at South Lincoln high school to accommodate the expected large crowd.
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