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Enniskillen Township citizens’ group spreading its message

Chad Burke says he believes it’s possible to keep wind farms out of Enniskillen Township.

Burke chairs the citizens’ group Conservation of Rural Enniskillen (CORE) that formed earlier this year after several wind companies became active seeking land to lease for turbine sites in the township.

Some residents of other communities where turbines have already been built have said “they wish they would have gotten a head start, like we have,” Burke said.

“We’re feeling pretty good there’s a chance industrial wind turbines will not be in Enniskillen.”

Core members will be handing out pamphlets and information at Saturday’s town-wide yard sale in Petrolia, and will have an information table May 1 at the Heidi’s Independent grocery store there.

That will be followed by a community awareness meeting CORE has organized for May 2, 7 p.m., at Lambton Centennial School.

Lawyer Wallace Lang is scheduled to speak that evening about land leases and Greg Cameron will speak about insurance issues.

Tammy Van Troost, president of the Lambton local of the National Farmers Union, is also expected to speak.

“What we’re hoping to do is make sure that before anyone signs a lease, they understand what they’re getting into and what they’re signing,” Burke said.

“Once you sign, it’s kind of hard to get back out.”

CORE members have also been hand-delivering 1,000 information flyers around the township.

Burke said they’ve been hearing back that many local farmers still aren’t aware of the concerns about wind turbines.

“We just want to keep getting the word out.”

CORE also has a community awareness meeting set for June 22, 3 p.m., that will feature Eric Gillespie, an environmental lawyer helping defend neighbouring Plympton-Wyoming from Suncor’s court challenge of that municipality’s wind turbine bylaws.

Burke said members of CORE were at the legislature in Toronto recently when Liberal and NDP MPPs voted to block a Tory bill that would have, among other things, returned some local municipal control to approvals for wind farms.

Burke said he was disappointed in the vote.

“We were hoping maybe some NDP members would get involved and put the bill through.”

Enniskillen Township council recently passed a motion declaring itself an unwilling host for wind farms, and Mayor Kevin Marriott has been speaking out against Ontario’s Green Energy Act and its impact on rural communities.

Wind development isn’t something municipalities should fear, according to Brandy Giannetta, Ontario regional director with the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

“If anything,” she said, “they should consider the significant economic benefits they can incur from engaging with wind developers.”

Many municipalities are doing that and “working to ensure that wind developments that come into their communities provide local benefits,” Giannetta said.

“We’re talking millions of dollars here, that are being distributed among communities in southwestern Ontario.”