Those attending last Friday’s Wainfleet Township green energy symposium are hoping it’s the start of a productive relationship.
More than 20 municipalities took part in Friday’s symposium, which was held at the Jericho House in Wainfleet. The township organized the symposium with the hopes of developing strategies for dealing with, and creating a united voice against wind turbine projects.
“It’s a great turnout of like-minded municipalities at the table,” said mayor April Jeffs.
Representatives included councillors and senior staff members from communities around Ontario, including municipalities from throughout southwestern Ontario and up along Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. The symposium began with a list of speakers, including: John Kennedy, who spoke about municipal/wind developer agreements; Carmen Krogh, who spoke in the health and socio-economic impacts of turbine developments; and John Laforet, who spoke about what new premier Kathleen Wynne means for green energy projects.
“It was a good sharing of information on how to fight turbines,” said Nigel Warren, a councillor for Tiny Township. His city council fought two turbine proposals for projects on Christian Island. Both projects have since been nixed.
In the afternoon, attendees split into three groups to held workshops.
Coming out of the workshops were two main resolutions. The first is to create a committee among interested municipalities to further discuss the issues and the second is for the 20 municipalities to send a letter to Wynne’s office to ask the government to change direction on the Green Energy Act.
“We don’t (individually) have the cache with the government to get into Toronto and Queen’s Park,” said West Lincoln Coun. Joanne Chechalk.
“Twenty municipalities is a pretty big deal,” said Jeffs about the importance of speaking with one voice.
Outside the meeting dozens of anti-turbine residents held a rally in support of the meeting and municipalities fighting turbine projects. Local residents, including many from the West Lincoln Wind Action Group were joined by residents from Haldimand, London, Bluewater and Plympton-Wyoming.
“We’re just so glad April (Jeffs) and her council had the gumption to stand up to the Green Energy Act,” said Betty Ortt, from Haldimand Wind Concerns. Ortt was referring to the 2 km setback bylaw Wainfleet council passed late last year. The township is currently being taken to court over the bylaw, which contravenes the provincial Green Energy Act.
The Town of Plympton-Wyoming is also facing legal action for a similar bylaw it passed. Outside, members from We’re Against Industrial Turbines (WAIT) showed their support to both their local council and Wainfleet’s.
“(Turbine projects) are creating conflict between neighbours, friends and family,” said member of WAIT, Keith Watson, adding it’s morally and ethically wrong to keep pushing projects that create this kind conflict.
Elizabeth Bellavance, another member of WAIT, said there are hundreds of facts and studies in opposition of turbines that people don’t know.
“We’re too small to educate everybody,” she said.