The fight against wind turbines proposed near Port Ryerse has become more public and more personal.
Forty protesters waved signs and handed out information sheets last Wednesday on normally quiet Gilbert Road.
The road dead ends at the home of Anne and Wally Faulkner, a short distance from Lake Erie, west of Port Dover.
The unlikely occasion for the protest was the summer picnic of the Port Dover and Woodhouse Horticultural Society.
Society president Anne Faulkner hosted the picnic in her gardens.
The protesters had no bone to pick with the horticultural society. In fact, one prominent sign thanked the society for beautifying Port Dover and Woodhouse.
But the protesters, mostly from the Port Ryerse area backed by contingents from Haldimand and West Lincoln, strongly objected to the Faulkners and their neighbours – the Smiths, the Steinhoffs and the Woolleys – leasing land for four industrial wind turbines planned for the Port Ryerse Wind Farm.
One sign read: “Smith, Steinhoff, Woolley and Faulkner, cancel the turbines. You and (developer) Boralex are going to damage all that is good here.”
The protest was for the most part a quiet, low-key affair.
About 45 horticultural society members passed by the protesters’ signs on their way to the picnic.
Many picnic-goers stopped to accept anti-wind information sheets and some gave the protesters a thumb’s up.
One driver honked her horn and drove by.
It was the first time that opponents had taken their fight to the door of one of the farm families who plan to lease land for the Port Ryerse wind farm.
The picnic was a chance to get the protesters’ feelings out to the public, said protest spokesperson Suzanne Andrews of Port Ryerse.
Many people don’t know about wind turbines, Mrs. Andrews said.
“Anne (Faulkner) was nice enough to have the picnic,” she said.
“We thought it a chance to hand out information.”
Mrs. Andrews said the Faulkners made things personal when they decided to lease a site for a wind turbine without asking their neighbours.
The Faulkners may have thought they had made an environmentally friendly decision when they agreed to a wind turbine on their farm, but new information shows the drawbacks of wind power, Mrs. Andrews said.
The protesters’ information sheet was headed: “Landowners set to damage ecologically significant watershed with industrial wind turbines.”
The sheet accused landowners of endangering the health and welfare of almost 500 people in the area of cottage community Avalon Park and Port Ryerse and of threatening to destroy the cultural and historic heritage of Port Ryerse.
The sheet added: “The enrichment of four landowners against the devaluation and enjoyment of property and the health and well-being for all residents of Port Ryerse and Avalon Park is greed beyond measure.”
Const. Thomas Dell of the OPP’s public order unit said protesters could hand out information sheets as long as they didn’t block traffic and had permission to stand on private property.
Wally Faulkner said he called police out of concern that protesters might trespass on private property.
He said wind opponents have the right to spread their message but protesting at the horticultural society’s picnic was “chintzy.”
Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett, Port Dover Coun. John Wells and Simcoe Coun. Charlie Luke stopped by the protest.
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