CHESTER GRANT – It appeared to be a divided house at a Lunenburg County public hearing Monday night into a wind farm that, if approved, would be the province’s largest.
The hearing at Forest Heights Community School in Chester Grant went on for nearly five hours. It included PowerPoint and Skype presentations and opponents booing supporters and cheering those who were like-minded.
Council for the Municipality of the District of Chester was expected to decide whether to enter into a development agreement that would pave the way for the South Canoe wind farm. But when the hearing went on until nearly midnight, Warden Allen Webber said “there’s not a chance in the world” that would happen Monday night.
The municipality will let residents know when it plans to have the debate and vote, Webber said.
The $200-million project calls for 34 turbines on a 3,044-hectare property between Vaughan and New Russell that would power 32,000 homes – the equivalent of all the homes in Lunenburg County and western Hants County.
The project would inject $650,000 in tax revenue annually into the district’s coffers and create 100 construction jobs and five or six full-time jobs once operational. It received Environment Department approval in July.
“I’m so new, my house isn’t even finished … and if and when I get it finished, is it going to be worth anything?” asked Peter Coolen, who lives in a home that the project will surround.
“Are my wife and I going to be able to live it in?”
Coolen said the proponents should be allowed to build a wind farm “but not at the expense of the residents of New Russell.” He said he wants assurances it will be safe for people to live in their homes.
“Would you have this development in your backyard?” New Ross resident Larry Keddy asked the councillors.
Keddy said he is in favour of the project if residents can be assured their health and well-being won’t be affected – something he doesn’t think is possible.
Megan Davies, a married mother of three, said her family would be 1.4 kilometres from the turbines.
“We would not have moved here if we knew about this project. This is a major industrial site we’re talking about.”
Herring Cove resident Morgan Van Wyck said her family was planning to buy a property in the New Ross area but after learning about the project has started looking elsewhere.
Van Wyck said councillors should await the results of a $1.8-million study being carried out by Health Canada and Statistics Canada into the possible relationship between wind turbine noise and a person’s health.
Others said the project will provide green energy, create local jobs and bring money into the community. The proponents have committed to providing at least $200,000 to community projects.
Kerry Keddy, director of the Chester Municipal Chamber of Commerce, read a letter from the chamber supporting the project.
Past chamber president Ben Wiper said the area’s population is dwindling and it needs the money and jobs the project would provide.
Several residents jeered him when he said the proponents are responsible and don’t want to do anything that will leave them open to lawsuits.
New Russell Road resident Dave McCall accused council of not being open with residents and said proponents are controlling the message.
“We’re to absorb 100 per cent of the risk while everybody else gets the benefit.”
However, McCall said he is not opposed to the project. “I’m for it … in a modified form. … It’s not black and white. You do not have to approve this tonight.”
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