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Residents vexed over unexpected turbine construction impact

WAINFLEET – They knew the turbines were coming, they even knew the fight to stop them was all but over; what they didn’t know however was how construction would impact their lives.

A group of Wellandport residents living on Side Road 42 and Concession 6 recently met with Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs to go through a laundry list of complaints associated with construction of wind turbines, specifically the transmission lines for the project.

“There is no notice,” said Concession 6 property owner LeaAnne Robins, who has seen construction devastate roadside trees in front of her property.

“They’ve massacred all the 80-year-old oaks on the road,” she said, explaining she expects construction of transmission towers to follow the clear cutting.

She said there was no notice given of how her property would be impacted and added it is hard to see the trees go.

“It’s kind of the reason you live in the country,” she said, adding, “we didn’t buy property out here to stare at metal monsters.”

Robins noted one instance where construction trucks have delayed access significantly to her property.

On Side Road 42 where transmission towers are already going up those delays have become common.

Construction has repeatedly blocked access at the north end of the road, forcing residents to take long detours.

“The school bus won’t even come down the road,” said Scott Murphy, whose four-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter now have to walk about a half kilometer through a construction zone to catch the bus.

“At one time they had both ends of the road blocked,” said Murphy, adding he is concerned that in an emergency situation first responders may be delayed or even prevented in reaching the area.

Stephanie Bertignoll, who also lives on Side Road 42, said she has always been opposed to the construction of turbines in Wainfleet by Niagara Region Wind Farms. That was even before construction crews showed up by surprise on her street and began cutting down trees.

Initially she was told 170 trees would be removed from her property. While she has managed to prevent that roadside trees have been cut and a length of her fence line has been removed.

“I thought that was ours,” she said, explaining by her research both the trees and fence that have been removed were inside her property line.

“We don’t need this, we’re living in a construction zone,” said Bertignoll, adiing she has health concerns over the transmission lines in front of her house.

She said health problems have been associated with high-voltage transmission lines.

“Hydro would never put these up near anybody,” she said, adding, “we didn’t move here for this.”

All three residents echoed similar concerns that they were never notified of how construction would impact their property. Murphy has seen his driveway ripped up.

“They could have buried these lines,” he said.