Southgate is the latest Grey County municipality to say No to wind turbines.
In a surprise move Mayor Brian Milne turned over the chair of Wednesday’s council meeting to Deputy mayor Norm Jack to propose that Southgate become a unwilling host to any wind energy projects now and in the future.
“I really wasn’t ready to see the project fall but I really wasn’t ready to support it. I think Brian showed a fair bit of courage in realizing that maybe the community wasn’t behind it,” said Councillor Glen Irwin following the unanimous vote by the five members of council present.
Coun. Dale Pallister had declared a conflict of interest and was out of the room during the vote. Coun. Pat Franks was absent.
Milne told a packed council chamber that discussions with residents indicated a deep division within the community over Samsung’s proposed 120 megawatt, 50-turbine wind project planned for the former Proton Township in the eastern part of the township.
“I think it’s the right thing for our community. . . . I could see the acrimony was going to tear this community apart and it wasn’t going to solve anything. It just decided it wasn’t worth it,” Milne said.
Cindy McNalty was taken aback by council’s sudden support of the strong opposition in the community.
“I’m glad that councillors listened; they were willing to come to the community meeting to receive information and become more informed and listen to members of the community and realize that money isn’t the end all and be all of everything and community cohesiveness is more important than money,” she said.
“It has divided many communities and I can’t see us being any different,” she added.
Milne said the promise of an additional $750,000 of additional revenue into the municipal coffers over the next 20 years was very tempting but in the end money wasn’t the most important thing.
“At the end of the day there were a great number of people in the community that for them it didn’t matter about the money. . . .” he said.
The unwilling status only applies to the wind energy project and does not affect Samsung’s proposed 50-megawatt solar energy projects planned for the former Egremont township.
Coun. Kim Peeters, a strong advocate of getting more information about the proposed wind project before making a decision, complimented Milne on his strong show of leadership.
“I was just telling Brian that I congratulated him on his conviction of doing that. I think it took a lot of guts to that. Maybe he realized just the amount of concern people had. Good on him for doing that,” Peeters said.