Energy company Nextera has been given the green light to start building a 92-turbine industrial wind farm in Lambton and Middlesex counties.
And that okay may have prompted the graffiti splashed on Grand Bend Highway 21 businesses and the municipal sign Friday morning. From the entry sign north to the Caldwell Banking sign “Stop wind power” was clearly written in red paint. At the Ausable Inn one car was splashed in red paint and the tires slashed.
Bill Weber, mayor of the Municipality of Lambton Shores, told the Lakeshore Advance that, “Reaction is disappointment. It’s disappointing that it would come to this in Lambton Shores.”
Even more frustrating for Weber is that the municipality – which includes Grand Bend – is one of nearly 100 unwilling host communities in Ontario.
The municipality has been fighting to keep turbines out of the community and stands largely on the same side as those in the anti-wind movement.
“Everyone understands the frustration that the anti-wind people have, that’s the frustration that the municipality has with the Green Energy Act,” Weber says adding he does not believe this destruction helps to further the protester’s cause.
Provincial approval to build 92 new wind turbines near Grand Bend was just handed down last week and although Grand Bend is not directly involved in the wind debate, yet, the businesses may have been targeted because they are close to homes and apartments being rented by wind company employees.
OPP Const. Chrystal Jones says “The OPP understands this is a very sensitive issue in our communities. Bottom line is, it’s mischief, it’s against the law and we’re not going to tolerate this.”
Weighing in on social media one poster said, “Shameful! This is not about wind power being a good or bad thing – this is about morons out vandalizing neigbourhoods! “
Another agreed stating, “Did they think this was going to change anything? What a bunch of fools!”
Anyone with information on what happened is asked to contact OPP at 1-888-310-1122, their nearest police authority or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment issued a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) earlier this week for the company’s proposal to build a 150-megawatt wind farm spanning Lambton Shores, Warwick Township and North Middlesex.
Some final details still need to be worked out, but construction of the Jericho Wind Energy Centre is expected to begin as soon as possible, said Ben Greenhouse, director of development with Nextera Energy Canada.
The project has been in the works since 2008, he said, and was submitted for ministry approval 14 months ago.
“We’re excited,” he said, noting a laydown yard – headquarters for construction – will soon be built on Thomson Line, north of Jericho Road and south of Northville Road.
But not everyone is enthused about the approval.
Lambton Shores resident Marcelle Brooks, with the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group, has been a vocal opponent of the project.
It was a sad day when she saw the approval, she said.
“It was just devastating that our voices simply aren’t being heard.”
Laureen Maurizio of Lambton Shores gave the Lakeshore Advance a heads up that there would be some “action” at Lambton Shores regular council meeting April 17th.
“Members of the Lakeshore Coalition met with the Middlesex-Lambton Wind Action Group to discuss what actions can be taken to appeal the decision of the Environmental Review Tribunal re: the Jericho Wind Project. There are only 13 days left to file an appeal. We’d like Council to file one on behalf of constituents,” she explained.
“This whole Green Energy Act is unconstitutional! It was done in a manner that prevented public input and impeded the democratic oath taken by government officials.”
“There is so much the council could be doing, for example: requesting the Ontario Ombudsman to launch a criminal investigation into the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Ontario Energy Board, Ontario Power Generation, Hydro One and the Ministry of Environment back to and inclusive of the Green Energy Act. Council could also file a complaint through the OPP and RCMP against the Ontario Liberal Government and the aforementioned agencies based on violations of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in accordance with Sections 7, 12 and 15. They could file a complaint through the Human Rights Commission for “Constructive or Adverse Effect Discrimination”. They could and should be doing everything in their power to protect the citizens of Lambton Shores from the advance of wind farm construction in Lambton Shores,” she said.
When asked if she was aware of the damage in Grand Bend and if her group of protesters had any knowledge of who did the spray painting, she replied the act was deplorable and destructive and there would be “hell to pay” if she found out it was one of their protesters. “We are here to educate not aggravate,” she said. Fellow protester Bob Lewis said they have always displayed peaceful demonstrations, but he could see that changing to more violent as people are becoming more frustrated. OPP criminal charges of assault and uttering threats have been laid against protesters after a meeting at South Huron council meeting.
“The fight isn’t over yet,” Brooks said. “The ministry’s working against us, we have industry working against us, but we’re fighting for our homes, for our communities.”
The approval comes with a 20-point list of requirements that include an acoustic audit, water use restrictions, and meeting all Endangered Species Act of 2007 requirements.
More details about the project are available at nexteraenergycanada.com.
With files from Tyler Kula-Sun Media
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