Last Saturday’s anti-turbine demonstration on Highway 402 was the logical result of the Ontario government’s refusal – through its Green Energy Act – to permit local residents and their elected municipal councils the opportunity to make a decision about the location of wind turbines.
Reports say about 150 vehicles, many of them farm machinery and pickup trucks, shut down the mid-section of Highway 402 just west of Strathroy. The rally began at the highway’s intersection with Forest Road.
The rally was staged by protesters upset with the location and sheer number of wind turbines located in western Middlesex County and eastern Lambton County.
What must be frustrating for the protesters – many of whom it can be assumed live and work in that region – is that Saturday’s protest was one of the few avenues they have available in expressing their collective opposition to the turbines’ location. They certainly can’t take their frustration to their local municipal council.
It must be remembered that the Green Energy Act, which was approved in early 2009, provides the legislative mechanism whereby the location of a wind turbine is left to bureaucrats in Toronto to decide – rather than with the people who live in a local municipality and who have been elected by that municipality’s residents and taxpayers.
You may be in favour with the concept of wind energy… or you may find wind energy to be a waste… but most people would agree that the decision of where a wind turbine is located should be vested with local planning authorities, rather than with someone who lives three hours away.
Rural Ontario residents are not alone in their opposition. Seventy-four municipalities in this province have formally defined themselves as “unwilling hosts” to the turbines. Some of those municipalities are in Lambton County.
The Liberal government in Toronto has softened their Green Energy Act somewhat to allow for municipal comment on planned turbine projects, but the final decision still rests in Toronto. That’s a travesty. The landscape of rural Ontario has been dramatically changed forever, but without the consent of anyone who lives in rural Ontario.
Can you blame local residents for taking out their frustration as they did on Saturday?
When governments deny their citizens a democratic avenue to express their wishes, then governments shouldn’t be surprised when those citizens are compelled to find an alternative.
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