Police have broken up a protest at the province’s Ministry of Environment offices in Windsor, where several people refused to leave the building until officials promised to investigate water contamination on farms in southwestern Ontario.
Fed up with contamination that often turns their water black, farmers from Chatham-Kent showed up at the ministry offices Wednesday afternoon with the promise of staying put, unless they were forcefully removed.
“We want the ministry to know there’s serious concern in our community over this,” said Kevin Jakubec, a member of a grassroots group called Water Wells First. “We have a young family who just lost their well … and now they’re living off a water tank in their driveway.”
Jakubed and his fellow protesters met with ministry officials met in the afternoon to discuss the problem. Not happy with the discussion, several members refused to leave the office, while others planted their flags outside.
Water Wells First has been studying the issue for years, without much assistance from the provincial government, Jakubec explained. Farmers have set up test sites, which regularly pour out contaminated water.
Specifically, the protesters want the ministry to press pause on the North Kent Wind project set to begin construction.
Ministry officials said they have put in strict restrictions that will monitor ground vibrations during wind turbine construction and operation.
“We take the concerns of these community members extremely seriously,” officials wrote in a statement. “As this project moves forward, we will continue to listen to their concerns and respond appropriately.”
The protesters want the ministry to launch a full inquiry into the contamination and they do not want to wait. They say construction and operation of wind turbines have been causing the sediment to enter the water.
Eventually, Windsor police entered the ministry building and convinced the protesters to leave peacefully.
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