The road to Ontario’s wind turbine industry – heralded by many, hated by others – goes through Southwestern Ontario.
Now, anti-turbine activists plan to grind traffic to a halt on a stretch of one of the region’s busiest highways, Hwy. 402, with a mass rally next Saturday as they ratchet up their protest against Ontario’s growing number of wind farms.
“We can’t take this anymore – we won’t take this anymore,” vowed Esther Wrightman, an anti-turbine activist and member of the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group.
Organizers are asking people to bring their tractors, pickup trucks, front-end loaders and signs to the protest that’s expected to start in the morning at the 402’s Forest on-ramp and continue to Strathroy.
Protesters are working with the OPP to ensure the rally is carried out safely, said Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, an umbrella group for those opposed to wind turbines.
The protest will snake through an area of Lambton County slated for wind farm development, the heart of a region that’s become Ground Zero in the wind battle in Ontario. Many of Ontario’s industrial wind turbines are located in Southwestern Ontario, the rapid growth of which – and lack of local control over where they can be built – helped cost the ruling Ontario Liberals seats in the region in the 2011 election.
Since then, nearly one in five Ontario municipalities – including dozens in the Southwest – has joined a list of so-called “unwilling hosts” for the energy mega-projects.
The Liberals have ignored the growing ranks of unwilling communities, said Enniskillen Township Mayor Kevin Marriott, who led the charge behind the unwilling host movement.
“If they don’t soon recognize that, I think they’re making a huge mistake,” he said.
“It’s like they have blinders on and they want to hope that it goes away.”
The protest is symbolic of the frustration people feel, said Wilson.
“In the last five business days, three more big wind projects have been approved . . . They (the provincial government) are saying one thing and doing another.”
Conservative MPPs Lisa Thompson, Monte McNaughton and Lisa McLeod are expected to speak once the rally reaches Strathroy.
A series of new large-scale wind farms are scheduled to be operational in Southwestern Ontario by the winter of 2015, including the 40-megawatt Adelaide Wind Project, South Kent Wind Project (270 MW), Grand Bend Wind Farm (100 MW), Cedar Point Wind Farm (100 MW), Goshen Wind Energy Centre (102 MW), Jericho Wind Energy Centre (150 MW), and the K2 Wind Project (270 MW).
– With files by Kelly Pedro, QMI Agency
What: Hwy 402 anti-wind turbine rally
Where: The Forest on ramp to Hwy. 402 travelling to Strathroy
When: Oct. 19, starting 10 a.m. at Michigan Line
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