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Motives questioned

A partnership between Horizon Wind Inc. and the Thunder Bay Boys and Girls Club has drawn the attention of a group opposed to turbines being erected on the Nor’Wester mountain range.

Irene Bond, a spokeswoman with the Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee, on Thursday questioned the company’s motives.

Horizon and the city agreed to the project several years ago, but in 2010, when the city appeared to bow to mounting public pressure to back out of the deal, the company dropped a $126-million lawsuit on the municipality.

Bond said she applauds Horizon’s decision to support the Boys and Girls Club, but if it’s linked in any way to supporting the Big Thunder Wind Park, then they’re questioning Horizon’s motives.

“Teaching kids about renewable energy is one thing. Having a corporation with vested interest teaching children about a project that we clearly believe is in the wrong location (is wrong),” Bond said.

Albert Aiello, who heads the Boys and Girls Club, said he sees no issue being associated with Horizon Wind, who once sued the city for $126 million before later dropping the suit, saying renewable energy is the way of the future.

“Not at all,” he said.

“It’s happening all around the world. We’re glad to get in on the ground floor and get in on this leading-edge industry in Thunder Bay. We’re excited to partner up with the college and the university and get some of their expertise explaining to our kids exactly what’s going on and how (energy) is produced. And we’re really excited about the education component.”

Members will be able to see real-time video of the turbines when erected and tours of the site will also be offered as part of the arrangement.

Horizon spokeswoman Kathleen MacKenzie said it’s important the Canadians begin to wean themselves away from fossil-fuel energy, and that the country owes it to its children to generate electricity in cleaner, less expensive (in the long run) ways.

“We have a great opportunity here and we wanted to take advantage of it. We’re talking to all kinds of institutions about doing education. The Thunder Bay Boys and Girls Club is such a central organization. They do such a good job, so we thought this was a good place to start.”

It’s a simple education program designed to remove fear of turbines from the Thunder Bay conscious.

“People my age were told by our kids who were in school to go recycle. My daughter used to say to me all the time, ‘Mom, you can’t throw that away,’” MacKenzie said.

“I think renewable energy may be that way for kids of this generation. They will be pushing their parents to say, ‘We have to do a better job. We have to think about the next decade, the next century, and protecting our planet.’”

MacKenzie, whose company is stalled in litigation designed to spur the Ontario government to speed up the renewable energy application process, said she hopes construction will be under way on the turbine farm by this time next year.