ELORA – The company planning to put four wind turbines on farmland west of Belwood Lake told a roomful of area residents opposed to the project Wednesday that they will begin building access roads and foundations Aug. 19.
But the dozens of frustrated residents who squeezed into the basement of Elora’s public library to attend a provincially mandated community meeting with representatives of the company replied, as they have for years, that they’ll continue to oppose the wind farm project, regardless of the fact that it got the green light from the province back in 2012.
They told representatives of wpd Canada they do not believe the company has done enough to address their concerns about the effect the turbines will have on health, area property values or what to do in the event of extreme weather like a tornado.
After discussion became heated 20 minutes into the meeting, which was meant to set up a community liaison committee and disclose when construction would occur, wpd Canada president Ian MacRae conceded “this is one of these situations where we could talk here back and forth for a long time.”
Residents criticized the company for not holding the meeting in a room that could contain all of the more than 50 people who showed up, and not addressing the fact that real estate transaction checklists now tell property sellers they must disclose the fact that wind turbines are nearby to potential buyers.
“We understand that as a business, all you need to do is fulfil the regulations, you’ve met your minimum and nobody can argue with you from a legal perspective,” Julian Vines told MacRae. “But we’re all talking from the ethical perspective.”
“We’ve answered hundreds and hundreds of letters, we’ve researched it, we have a staff that provides the best information that we can, and we’re working as hard as we can,” MacRae replied.
The turbines will be placed on either side of Fergus Third Line, between Sideroads 15 and 20.
“I know there’s nothing you can do,” Stefan Preisenhammer told MacRae. “But you should know that this community does not like you. If we can’t stop it, we’ll delay it, we’ll do everything possible in order to give you a hard time.”
A table full of sandwiches, fruits and coffee provided by wpd Canada for the meeting went untouched.
One area resident who did not attend Wednesday’s meeting said it’s the attitude of the wind farm opponents, and not the wind turbines themselves that are a cause for concern.
“The thing is that there has been more vandalism and sabotage done by some people who oppose the wind turbines,” John Katerberg, who lives across Third Line from where one of the turbines will be placed on his brother-in-law’s farm, said in an interview. “I have to kind of shake my head at why they’re so opposed.”
He said someone had sprayed anti-wind farm graffiti on about 30 of the hydro poles in his area.
“The people that are OK with the turbines, for the most part they have not been too vocal.”
He said that he decided the turbines were a good thing without being influenced by his brother-in-law, and felt ashamed at having to explain the anti-wind farm signs to friends who visited him from New Zealand recently.
“What’s with this? It’s not like we’re going to have 100 put up, it’s only four.”
The four 2.3 MW output wind turbines will be installed sometime between March and July 2014.