“The resolution re-affirms that the Mi’kmaq have a title claim to all of Nova Scotia lands and resources …” said Byrne.
AMHERST – A local group opposed to the proposed wind farm just outside of Amherst made clear during a meeting Wednesday night that the process is not community-based but, instead, First Nations based.
“It’s supposed to be community based,” said Dr. Ferguson, who lives close to the proposed site chaired the meeting at the Amherst Fire Hall.
“Natural Forces does not live anywhere near John Black road or pumping station road, so how the heck did they get in there?” asked Ferguson. “How did they beat the system?”
Natural Forces is working on the $16 million, three-turbine wind farm with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs, which is made up of 13 First Nation communities in the province of Nova Scotia.
The proposed wind farm is scheduled to be built in 2015 between the John Black Road and the Pumping Station Road, across from D’Orsay Road and the Amherst Golf Club.
Six mega-watt wind farm will be approximately 1,000 metres from all residential dwellings. The turbines are much like the turbines on the Tantramar Marsh just outside of Amherst.
Ferguson says First Nations of Nova Scotia, in conjunction with Natural Forces, are hurting home owners such as himself.
He said he has nothing against First Nations people believes he is a victim of reverse racism.
“If I do something to you and hide behind the colour of my skin, my religious background, that’s reverse prejudice because I checkmate you from saying anything for fear that I’ll go back and say you’re prejudiced.”
Vince Bryne, a former bank manager at the Scotiabank in Amherst, was another guest speaker at the meeting. He also believes the system is rigged against people opposed to windmills.
“I’m a retired and was a banker for 35 years. I have no vested interest and I’m not being paid to be here,” said Byrne. “I have worked in commercial banking for many years, so when I was asked to work on this project I approached it as a loan application.”
Byrne said the ownership of the wind farm, as disclosed by Natural Forces, is owned by Natural Forces in partnership with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs.
“The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq chiefs is the highest level of decision making in the negotiation process,” said Byrne.
Byrne said the assembly,which is made up of 13 Mi’kmaq chiefs and two other officials, meets on a monthly basis.
“Under the proposed renewable energy regulations implemented by the province, the Mi’kmaq people were allocated 13 small wind projects,” said Byrne. “The Assembly of First Nations passed a resolution on August 7, that asserted the Mi’kmaq as the exclusive rightful holders of aboriginal rights entitled in Nova Scotia.
“The resolution re-affirms that the Mi’kmaq have a title claim to all of Nova Scotia lands and resources and that aboriginal and treaty rights as affirmed and recognized by section 35 to access these resources belong exclusively to the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia.”
Byrne says the wind farm was approved shortly after the Aug. 7 resolution passed by the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs.
Byrne urged the 200 people in attendance to connect the dots.
“The willing community partner, if you connect the dots, a limited company was incorporated on Jan. 20, 2014, called Mi’kmaq Wind For All General Partnership Limited.”
He says a general partner is a mouthpiece for a people who sit behind them and tell them what to do, and added that the directors and officers of this incorporated company are the same as those for Natural Forces, with the exception of the economic director of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs.
Byrne also said Mi’kmaq projects must be on reserve lands or on the lands leased or owned by Mi’kmaq business enterprises.
“In my research I have been unable to find any registered leases on file with the land registry for any property along John Black Road or Pumping Station Road for any of the parties noted in this presentation, Natural Forces, the Mi’kmaq or Wind For all. This is not to say a lease does not exist,” said Byrne.
Byrne says to qualify for the development of wind farm, a cooperative must have 25 members who reside in the municipality where the project is located.
He says that is not the case for this project but there is a work-around.
“The community partner in this project are the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs. Under their resolution they own all the land in Nova Scotia,” said Byrne. “Is that the community? If it is, basically, COMFIT can approve this project.”
COMFIT, Community Feed-in Tariff, was established by Nova Scotia Power, said Byrne, as a tool to enable communities to benefit from the development of renewable electric energy.
Byrne then read a statement from the COMFIT website.
“The COMFIT program … is intended to encourage and support the development of renewable electricity projects by community based groups. The focus of community-based projects is designed to ensure the projects are rooted in the community and investment returns remain (in the community).”
“The question one has to ask is have these projects been consolidated through the assembly of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs?” said Byrne.
Ferguson made it clear he is not against wind energy or other modes of green energy’s but is against the process and methods used by Natural Forces to push the project through.
He feels the deck has been stacked unfairly against anybody opposed to the wind farm.
A similar meeting was held Sept. 9 at the Amherst Golf Club and was attended by about 120 people. Wednesday’s meeting had closer to 200 people, and a show of hands revealed a majority of those 200 people were not at the first meeting.
Topics rehashed Wednesday night included health concerns and reductions in property values brought about by wind farms, but the meeting did have some differences.
One difference was that five people were invited to speak at the meeting but only three showed.
Absent was Keith Hunter, Cumberland County warden, and Andy MacCallum, vice president of developments at Natural Forces, both of who spoke briefly at the last meeting.
Present was Ferguson, and John Laforet, principal of Broadview Strategy Group and former president of Wind Concerns Ontario. Another invitee, Don Smith, county councillor for District 1, was present but did not speak.