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West Lincoln says no to windfall; Council rejects vibrancy fund

Residents who stand against wind turbines were blown away by a council decision Monday.

They came to hear the results of months of negotiations between the township and wind developer Niagara Region Wind Corp. and left with a renewed sense of confidence in their municipal government.

“All members of West Lincoln Wind Action Group are pleasantly surprised that council unanimously rejected getting their hands dirty,” said Neil Switzer, chair of the citizens group, in reference to council’s rejection of a proposed community vibrancy fund. “Council has made it known they will not be bought. They have heard loud and clear the position of the majority of the residents of this township and we applaud their position here tonight.”

Monday’s move further solidifies the township’s declaration as an “unwilling host” to industrial wind turbines. This move was made at the May 13 administration, finance and fire committee meeting, which was ratified by council Monday.

“It was important for us to do because we declared ourselves an unwilling host and, in order to be consistent, we won’t accept a community vibrancy fund,” Mayor Doug Joyner told The News. “We’ve taken a firm stance to say we don’t want the community vibrancy fund because we’re not a willing host.”

The negotiations began in September when NRWC presented council with a draft of the proposed vibrancy fund – referred to by wind opponents as “blood money.” Council has met behind closed doors several times for negotiations, including after the May 13 administration, fire and finance committee meeting.

Despite council’s rejection of a vibrancy fund, NRWC will move forward with its commitment to share a portion of the project’s revenue with the community, said a company spokesperson.

“Our position is that we are committed to contributing a portion of revenue back to the community of West Lincoln,” said Randi Rahamim Tuesday. “A fund will be established and there will always be a seat at the table for the municipality.”

Rahamim said an announcement on the fund will be made in the coming weeks.

The vibrancy fund, said Rahamim, is not mandated under the Green Energy Act, which sets forth the rules and regulations for green energy development, such as wind and solar.

“These agreements are not mandated by [the Renewable Energy Approvals process], they are voluntary offers made because we have always said we wanted to be good corporate citizens,” she said.