Ontario’s environment ministry has given the go-ahead for a 60-megawatt wind farm 80 kilometres north of Sault Ste. Marie, the project’s proponents announced this week.
Blu Earth Renewables and Batchewana First Nation are partners in the 36-turbine wind farm, which is to be built on Bow Lake, just south of Montreal River and close to the shores of Lake Superior.
The partners announced Monday that the wind farm has received its Renewable Energy Approval from the government and say the project represents one of the country’s largest partnerships between a First Nation and a wind developer.
“The Bow Lake Wind Project is perfectly aligned with our original expectations at Treaty time; those expectations were to benefit from our resources in sustainable ways. The BFN will continue to affirm, and benefit from the Letter of Assertions, which outlines our First Nations’ expected relationship with resource developers. This assertion was the foundation for our relationship with our partner, BluEarth Renewables, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome,” said Batchewana First Nation Chief Dean Sayers in a release.
Once constructed, Bow Lake’s proponents say it will generate enough renewable electricity for approximately 15,000 homes. Nodin Kitagan, as the partnership is known, estimates that Bow Lake will employ approximately 80 people to construct the facility and once constructed, up to seven people will be required to operate the facility. Beyond job creation during construction, operations and decommissioning, the project is also expected to generate considerable investment in the local economy through procurement of supplies and services.
The project faced opposition from area residents and from a group studying the history of the Group of Seven.
Art historian Michael Burtch and artists/adventurers Gary and Joanie McGuffin urged the government to turn down the project due to the cultural significance of numerous sites depicted in Group of Seven works. The trio has spent the last several years documenting sites where Group of Seven members painted, the tourism potential of which, they charge, would be diminished by the wind farm development.
Meanwhile, Batchewana First Nation will put $32 million into the $240-million project and is projected to reap roughly $2 million a year, once debt is serviced. Sayers has said the money would help pay for education, housing, infrastructure, health care and efforts to preserve language and culture.
“The Renewable Energy Approval is the culmination of over six years of public engagement and rigorous environmental and technical studies. We are very pleased to be moving forward towards the construction of the Bow Lake Wind Project,” said Kent Brown, BluEarth’s president and CEO.
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