Not Willing Host
Enniskillen Mayor Kevin Marriott says municipalities who don’t want industrial wind turbines in their communities are tired of being ignored.
Since May, when Premier Kathleen Wynne commented that only municipalities who are “willing hosts” would have wind energy projects, 71 rural municipalities have passed motions saying they are “not a willing host.” In a news release, the municipalities say this has happened as a response to activities by wind turbine companies in areas not previously affected by projects and an understanding that Ontario does not need more electricity at this time.”
Marriott helped to organize the municipalities to speak as one voice at a recent Association of Municipalities meeting this summer. At the time, the provincial government was preparing to release new guidelines and contract requirements for the projects. That hasn’t happened yet.
The group adds the government’s proposals for community benefit programs and community sponsorship do not address the core problems being created when wind turbines are located too close to people. As Mayor April Jeffs of Wainfleet says “municipalities are looking for solutions to the real problems, not public relations gimmicks.”
The government has held a series of public meetings, all in urban areas. And Marriott says rural communities, which have the most to lose in the effort to produce wind energy, have been largely ignored.
Marriott says it is as if the province was saying “’we’ll reach out to the ones we want to reach out to’…how can you ignore 71 municipalities?”
Marriott says the municipalities are growing weary of waiting and have planned to block the 402 near Forest on Oct. 19 to make their point.
“Because they’re not willing to listen, they’re going to be forced into listening,” says Marriott. “If that is what it takes – to block highways and go to Queen’s Park, we’ll do it…they’re going to have to listen to us.”
Marriott says the municipalities are talking about the protest now in hopes of getting the province’s attention. “We’re trying to give them fair warning that they should be listening to us,” he says. “If they’re not willing to do this, we’ll have to go the civil disruption way of doing it.”