The “divisive” wind energy debate is heating up in Enniskillen Township, says Mayor Kevin Marriott.
Representatives of several wind companies have been approaching Enniskillen landowners, Marriott said.
“I would say there are three (companies) involved” with projects proposed for sites across the rural central Lambton County township that surrounds Petrolia, he said.
Wind farms were proposed for Enniskillen several years ago but the issue had gone quiet until recently, he said.
“A year ago we thought we were lucky, and now we’re kind of right into the frying pan here.”
Marriott said township council hasn’t taken a position yet on wind turbines, or been formally approached by any wind companies.
“I’ve been told they are in the neighbourhood talking to landowners, trying to get a feel for what the consensus would be before they do actually approach council.”
Marriott is attending the Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference in Toronto this week where he said township officials are attempting to learn more about the issue.
The recent Ontario throne speech, following the swearing-in of new Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, promised communities would have a say in the location of new energy projects.
“We don’t want to rush into a decision until we find out what the premier has up her sleeve,” Marriott said.
Enniskillen’s neighbour, the Town of Plympton-Wyoming, is in a legal battle with Suncor over the company’s plans to build wind turbines there.
Marriott said he has been hearing from Enniskillen residents concerned about the issue, including many in a similar position as township council.
“They’re not sure what to think of the whole thing, just yet,” he said.
Township resident Chad Burke and members of his family have organized a wind turbine public meeting for March 7, at 7 p.m., at the Oil Springs Community Centre.
Burke said they set up the meeting with help from the Middlesex Lambton Wind Action Group, an organization opposed to wind farms.
Monica Elmes, a Ridgetown area resident, is scheduled to speak that evening about her family’s fight against a wind development.
Doug Pedlar, a real estate broker in the Grand Bend area, will speak about the impact of wind farms on property values.
Burke said he and his wife, and their children, live on two acres in Enniskillen they bought from her family a few years ago.
He said they learned about the wind proposals after a company approach his father-in-law about leasing some of his land.
“Our concern is that there’s a lot of conflict in the information for the cons and the pros,” Burke said.
“It’s kind of hard to know what’s right and what’s not right.”
Burke said the March 7 event is an “awareness meeting, just to understand all the factors involved,” but added he doesn’t want wind turbines built around his home.
“I moved out to the country for a reason,” Burke said.
“Now they’re going to put these 300-foot turbines up all over the place.”
Marriott said wind energy is “dividing communities, there’s no doubt about it.”
On one side are anti-wind groups and residents with questions about health impacts.
On the other side are landowners who have the potential to sign leases with wind companies, he said.
For now, township council finds itself in the middle.
“It’s too hard to make a decision based on the information we have so far,” Marriott said.
“It’s a very scary issue right now for us.”
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