Construction is underway on 37 wind turbines just south of Bayfield. Once complete, they’ll make up the Bluewater Wind Farm.
It’s a project that has divided the community, even families.
“I have cousins that have put up turbines and unfortunately we’re not talking right now,” says resident Mervin Steckle.
One of those cousins is Paul Steckle, the former Liberal MP is a turbine leaseholder.
He says he’s never seen an issue divide his community like wind turbines.
“To see the divisiveness within our own family name is not something that frankly I’m very proud of.”
Turbines have touched a nerve not seen in rural Ontario since the introduction of hydro towers many decades ago.
Patti Kellar lives near St. Joseph, she will have nine turbines within 2 km of her home.
“There was a bomb in someone’s driveway over a year ago. There was a bulldozer torched in this area. There’s a huge public safety concern and it’s growing,” says Kellar.
Resident Gordon Hill has lived in the region all of his life and watching his community crumble saddens and angers him.
“I have yet to hear somebody say, ‘I wish I had one on my property.’ I have never heard that. But I have talked to people who wish they hadn’t let them in,” he says.
Some worry about potential health issues including property devaluation, increasing hydro rates and the esthetics.
But Paul has his own opinion about the root of turbine dissent.
“It gets right down to dollars and cents. Those that have wind towers like them, those that don’t get them, don’t like them. That’s true with so many issues, but in this one it’s profoundly true.”
Mervin is leaving it all behind and moving to Haliburton.
He recently sold the farm his father bought 75 years ago, because of wind turbines.
“It feels like we’re being forced off our inheritance. That’s what it feels like. I’m not going to be a guinea pig for the government,” says Mervin.
The Bluewater Wind Farm should be complete by August.
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