The fate of the Amherst Island wind turbine project is still very much up in the air and as the Environmental Review Tribunal to fight the Windlectric project continues, so does the passion and commitment of island residents.
“I have been following the story of the wind turbines, like everyone on the island, and I really feel this is the wrong place for the turbines,” said Tagget Bonham-Carter, a resident of the island for the past six years. “I wanted to do something to help and contribute to the cause.”
Bonham-Carter started a Go Fund Me page to help fundraise for the legal fees that have been ongoing throughout the tribunal process. More than $225,000 has already been raised, with the majority of that coming from the island’s 400 residents, but more is needed.
“We are fighting a multi-national company with very deep pockets and they stand to make millions of dollars off this project. Time and money are nothing to them,” explained Bonham-Carter. “We don’t stand to make anything and we are scraping together whatever we can, so every little bit helps at this point.”
While the tribunal is focusing on the harm the turbines will do to the health of islanders or the fate of species at risk like the Blanding’s turtle or the little brown bat, Bonham-Carter is most concerned by the impact the turbines will have on the owl and bird population on the island.
“There are lots of strategies people are using to show why the project isn’t right for the island and for me the birds are my reason,” she said. “They are one of the reasons I wanted to move back to the island. The natural environment and habitat on the island is just incredible. I walk my dog everyday and I saw three snowy owls yesterday.”
Because of this love for owls and birds, Bonham-Carter has dubbed her fundraiser ‘Help Save the Owls’ and she hopes community members can identify with the need to protect these creatures and their habitat.
“I thought maybe we need to remind people that Amherst Island is known as the national owl capital of North America,” she said. “There are seven different species of owl that live here and make their homes on the island and to think that they won’t be impacted by 26 large wind turbines is unrealistic.”
According to Bonham-Carter, if the Windlectric project goes through, four large wind turbines will be erected directly beside the owl woods area of the island. The construction will invade their homes and the turbines themselves will interfere with migratory paths going forward.
“Birds aren’t really being discussed in the tribunal, but do we really need to wait until they are a species at risk before we try to protect them too?” she said. “Owls make the island so unique and people come from all over to see the wildlife that is there and it would be a shame to lose that.”
Through the Go Fund Me, Bonham-Carter hopes to raise $200,000 for the ongoing legal battle. She also hopes to raise awareness about the project and the overall impact it is already having.
“The saddest part has been seeing what this has done to our community. I know that not everyone feels the same way about the project and that has been difficult,” she said. “I don’t blame either side, I blame the project and the way these projects are handled. We were kind of thrust into all of this and nobody asked for it and we are already suffering.”
While she knows that this fundraiser is just a small contribution, Bonham-Carter hopes that more community members take notice and take the time to learn more.
“This is something that I felt I could do,” she said. “This is just my little piece and contribution to the overall puzzle.”
To learn more about the wind turbine battle on Amherst Island or to donate visit the Go Fund Me page at https://www.gofundme.com/xnmyqwpg
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