Dutton Dunwich council is getting support from neighbouring First Nation communities in the municipality’s bid to block the proposed Strong Breeze Wind Project.
Municipal council’s meeting agenda on Jan. 11 included correspondence from the chiefs of Oneida Nation of the Thames, Chippewas of The Thames First Nation and Munsee Delaware Nation.
Deputy Mayor Bob Purcell said he had met with the band chiefs in December to initiate dialogue on areas of mutual interest and concern.
“… the Oneida Nation of the Thames elected Chief and Council have agreed to support your opposition to the Strong Breeze Wind Turbine project,” elected Chief Randall Phillips stated in a letter.
“The Oneida Nation of the Thames will also join your efforts to have this project halted completely,” the chief added.
Phillips said his council will ask the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to “immediately halt all approvals” related to the wind farm and “request to be properly engaged in the consultation process.”
Chief Myeengun Henry stated in an email to Purcell that the wind project “has not been brought to the attention of Chippewas of The Thames First Nation as is necessary.”
Chief Roger Thomas told Purcell in an email: “There has been not any real conciliation between the Munsee Delaware Nation and Strong Breeze Industrial Wind Turbine and yes they were advised of a land claim that is still in effect.”
Purcell said the chiefs demonstrated interest in coming to a municipal council meeting to continue talks between the parties.
The deputy mayor said council would also be welcome to participate in band council meetings “to get to know each other, as neighbours and forge a lasting, working relationship.”
Coun. Dan McKillop, who announced last fall he would no longer declare a conflict of interest during wind turbine discussions, questioned why council wasn’t made aware of the meeting with area chiefs.
“We didn’t know about this until letters showed up in our agenda,” McKillop said.
He added it was “embarrassing as a councillor” to receive a call from someone connected to one of the reserves asking him what he knew about the meeting when he “had no clue” there had been any discussion.
“It’s a sensitive subject and it’s one of these ones that happen in our community,” McKillop said he told the caller.
“So going forward we need to have more transparency if we’re going to do it, I’m not going to stop it. It’s just to say ‘Hey, I’m reaching out to the First Nations’ so we know and I think it’s a great idea.”
Purcell said area First Nations are also interested in exploring “economic opportunities in harmony with ourselves.
“We have started a true reconciliation process with our neighbours, which is long overdue, but you’ve got to start somewhere and we were very well received by all three nations and chiefs.”
Purcell said all three chiefs expressed opposition to the installation and the process used in the wind turbine project.
In a recorded vote, council unanimously passed a resolution to direct staff to formally thank each chief for their written support and accommodate their desire to work with Dutton Dunwich council on mutually important issues.
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