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Wind farms cause animosity in Ontario communities

3-MW wind turbine and house near Brinston: Ontario hasn't learned a thing. [Photo: Ray Pilon, Ottawa]
3-MW wind turbine and house near Brinston: communities “torn apart” by conflict. [Photo: Ray Pilon, Ottawa]

While the Wynne government claims to be “Building Ontario Up” the reality is different for rural communities where wind power developers offered leases to farmers, who then chose money over their neighbours and communityFarmers Forum, Eastern Ontario Edition, March 2016

TEARING US APART

Wounds not healing after wind turbines turned friends into bitter enemies

By Tom Collins

BRINSTON—Wind turbines tear apart communities and relationships, causing animosity that lingers for years, warn farmers who have lived through the ugly battles.

Don Winslow signed up almost immediately in 2013 when a wind company planned to build five turbines near Peterborough. Three months later, after immense public pressure and hostility, he couldn’t do it anymore.

“It relieved our stress tremendously [to cancel the contract],” the then-70-year-old Winslow told Farmers Forum after he cancelled his turbine. “We don’t have to sneak around the neighbours hoping not to run into them. There is always an element of society that is going to go overboard but people I respected were just as upset as the real radicals.”

There are only three wind turbine projects in Eastern Ontario – Brinston (10 turbines), Wolfe Island (86 turbines) and 5 turbines just west of Kingston, but there are more than 1,200 turbines in the province with another 1,500 on the way. The province is expected to announce new projects this month that could include another 98 turbines in Eastern and East-Central Ontario.

Most turbines are in Western Ontario where the stories are shocking.

They put their pocketbook ahead of the community

Time doesn’t heal all wounds, said Guelph-area dairy farmer Tim Martin. “There are people here that have absolute hatred for others. I have never seen anything so divisive in our community, ever, in my entire life. You try to say forgive and forget, but a lot of people say ‘We forgive them but we remember.’ They put their pocketbook ahead of our health and above the community’s well-being, and people don’t forget that.”

… But not everyone blames wind turbines. Some lay the blame on anti-wind protestors for stoking fears and fueling the fighting. Farmers with turbines have signed confidentiality agreements and won’t speak to news media. However, North Gower farmer Ed Schouten signed up for turbines on his dairy farm years ago but the project never went ahead. Although he is a strong supporter, Schouten said he would have to think long and hard about signing up again if the opportunity arose.

“You’ve got to be careful today because people are jealous and they’ll get back at you,” he said. “We have a lot to lose here. They can easily sabotage something on you. There’s all kinds of crazy people out there today.”*

Schouten credited anti-wind groups for doing a good job of fear-mongering and, while they are a minority, get people riled up.

The anti-wind protestors “say [turbines] tear up the communities. They’re the people that tore up the communities, not the turbines. They say [wind turbines] pit neighbor against neighbor and all this stuff because they want another reason to get rid of them.”

See an excerpt of this article here: Farmers ForumMarch2016-Tearing UsApart

To see the full article, go the FarmersForum.com next week or call 613-247-1334 to purchase a copy.

*Ottawa Wind Concerns Editor note: during the time of community action to oppose the proposed North Gower-Richmond wind power project, there was NEVER any threats of violence or civil disobedience. As to the comments about the opposition being a “minority,” readers will recall that a petition to the City of Ottawa requesting that North Gower be Not A Willing Host to the wind power project garnered signatures from 1,400 residents— almost every taxpayer in Ward 21. The petition was accepted and a motion of support passed unanimously at Ottawa City Council.

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