A windstorm of opposition and protest is about to be unleashed against a proposed wind turbine farm southeast of Norwood.
More than 100 concerned area residents filled the Norwood Town Hall Wednesday evening for a wind turbine community information meeting that ran close to three hours and ended with a call to organize opposition to the Collie Hill Wind Farm project near Hastings.
Township resident Graham Sanders, whose home is only 1,100 metres from the proposed wind turbine farm, said wind turbines are “a political issue” and can be stopped only by appealing directly to Queen’s Park. “The only way we’re going to stop this is for each and every one of us to go to (new premier) Kathleen Wynne and say, ‘if you don’t put a stop to this we’re going to kick you out of office in the next election,’” Sanders said to resounding applause.
He warned area residents against thinking they won’t be affected by the wind farm if they don’t live in the immediate area. “The reality is, you’re all going to be affected,” he said, stressing that the value of his own home and other homes around the site will plunge. And the resulting reduction in assessment will mean “the rest of you are going to be asked to put your hand in your pockets to pay more taxes.”
Realtor and Hastings and District Chamber of Commerce president Dennis Savery also warned of the adverse impact of wind turbine farms on property values. “I have no doubt in my mind that property values will be adversely affected,” he said, stressing that the community must act to prevent the further spread of wind turbines in the area.
“This wave is only the beginning of what will happen if they are successful in this area. They seem to bulldoze small communities first to see what will happen. So it’s very important that we all get together and voice our opinions and stand up for what we believe is our rights, for our health, for our children and for the investments and hard work that we all put together for the years and the generations to follow.”
Norwood and Westwood United Church minister Don McLean called for direct action to “mobilize public opinion,” reaching out in particular to the residents of Ontario’s cities, who might not be informed about the concerns rural residents have about the impact of wind turbines on human health, property and the environment. “Because the people who live in the cities aren’t bad people; they’re not from outer space, they’re just from the city, and they’re reasonable, so if they know. So it’s a question of mobilizing public opinion and the networks we have. This meeting might not mean anything unless you go and talk to your neighbour tomorrow about what was discussed here and the fact that we’re all affected. So we need to talk to people who are not here, who we live near, go shopping with or go to church with.”
City of Kawartha Lakes Coun. Heather Stauble, one of three speakers to address the information meeting, stressed the need for wind turbine opponents to apply political pressure. “The legislation is in place and these companies are doing what they’re supposed to according to the legislation, and they get approved, so that’s where the political pressure comes in. It’s important that your council representatives and the provincial ministers of parliament are able to justifiably say there’s a lot of opposition to these projects in my community, that there are concerns with respect to health.”
Municipal councils can’t make the final decision on the location of wind turbine projects, but they can, like the City of Kawartha Lakes, go over wind turbine proposals “with a fine-tooth comb,” looking closely at the planning, the setbacks and the impacts on health, the environment and economic development, Stauble said, adding that municipalities can call for a moratorium and increased setbacks, and for full environmental assessments to be part of the process.
“Delay, delay, delay,” she said. “Make sure your councillors are aware in dealing with the MOE process right now, because they have so many projects coming through, that the ones that are going to be put at the bottom of the pile, are the ones where people have really, really made a lot of noise.”
But Stauble cautioned residents to make their position clear and concise. “You do have to make a rational argument,” she said.
Meeting organizer Debbie Lynch was encouraged by the turnout and urged everyone to sign a petition protesting the wind turbine project. “Hopefully tonight’s a catalyst,” she said.