Ingrid Willemsen wasn’t sure what to expect outside the Camlachie Community Centre Tuesday night.
A thousand copies of their objection letter had been printed, a map of Suncor’s planned Cedar Point wind farm had been hung up and dozens of signs were ready to be hoisted into the air.
But would anyone stop to listen?
Within minutes of Suncor’s public open house getting underway, dozens of Plympton-Wyoming residents started gathering outside the community centre, picking up information sheets and filling out objection letters.
“I think people feel they already know enough,” said Willemsen, a member of We’re Against Industrial Turbines Plympton-Wyoming (WAIT-PW). “They now want to know what action they can take.”
Suncor Energy Products has proposed a wind farm stretching right across Plympton-Wyoming, Lambton Shores and into Warwick Township.
The company is in the final stages of the provincial approval process, wrapping up its final set of public open houses this week.
Members of WAIT-PW have vowed to be outside the final two meetings in Thedford Wednesday and Watford Thursday. They plan to hand over the objection letters to company officials at the Thursday night meeting. Copies will also be delivered to MP Pat Davidson and MPP Bob Bailey.
Suncor spokesperson Michael Southern admitted reaction has been mixed to the project.
However, he said the company has been implementing some of the public feedback, which will be contained in their application for provincial approval.
Suncor has reduced the number of wind turbines planned for the Cedar Point project, Southern noted. The company now plans to erect 46 turbines down from their initial proposal of 62 turbines.
Southern said public input influenced that decision.
“I think the way the project is shaped is reflective partially on the feedback we’ve heard from the community,” he said.
However, Suncor has launched a legal challenge against Plympton-Wyoming’s wind turbine bylaws, including a two-kilometre setback from neighbouring homes.
“It’s not something that we take lightly,” Southern said Tuesday. “It was a rare step for us to do that. We’d much prefer to come to a more constructive solution within the community.”
Under Ontario’s Green Energy Act, municipal councils have been stripped of planning authority over industrial wind farms.
Yvonne Vanderbeld said this loss of municipal oversight is one of many reasons why she’s opposed to the Cedar Point project.
She’s also concerned about the impact on tundra swans, which stop in on the field across from her home. Her property is right across from the site of the proposed wind turbine farm.
“Suncor is out to make money and all those concerns don’t matter,” the Plympton-Wyoming resident said.
Her husband Bill Yates also worries about the potential impact on property values.
As the scientific community continues to study the impact of industrial wind turbines, young families may be turned off from purchasing homes in the area, Yates noted.
“While the questions are being asked, who wants to put their young family at risk?” he said.
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