Stratford Beacon Herald
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Two busloads of wind turbine opponents from Perth and Huron counties are headed to a protest in Toronto on Tuesday.
Elma-Mornington Concerned Citizens, which is fighting a proposed wind farm in North Perth and Perth East, has a bus leaving from Listowel. Another bus will leave from Clinton en route to Toronto and pick up protesters in St. Columban, who have their own ongoing fight against a wind farm on the Huron-Perth boundary.
They’ll join a rally by rural Ontarians outside the Ontario Feed-In Tariff Forum at the Metro Convention Centre downtown.
Protest organizers have dubbed the conference “un-FIT.”
“I think we’re going to see at least 500 people down there if not 1,000, somewhere in that range. It’s actually taking off all across the province,” said Warren Howard of the Elma-Mornington group.
“It’s a very hot topic up in this area,” added the North Perth municipal councillor who also managed the campaign of Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece in last year’s provincial election.
Many Liberal incumbents, including former environment minister and two-term Perth-Wellington MPP John Wilkinson, were dispatched by the anti-wind vote.
Pettapiece hosted a meeting in Atwood for constituents to vent about wind energy on March 14. About 200 people attended and their anger was described as palpable as they complained about being treated as second- and third-class citizens by the province.
Last week, the McGuinty government announced some reductions in FIT premiums paid to wind and solar and changes to the controversial Green Energy Act. But the province stopped short of giving rural municipalities the veto power they want to stop wind projects that aren’t wanted in their communities because of health and environmental concerns. Instead, the province promised to give priority to new wind and solar projects that have local support.
“We essentially didn’t hear any change at all relative to our project in particular and even in general. I don’t think there is any listening going on at all,” Howard said.
Invenergy Canada has proposed a 23-27 turbine project for the area.
“It really comes down to the three families that are pursuing this. There is certainly a lot of concern from their neighbours,” Howard said.
Some landowners who signed lease agreements have hired lawyers to try to get out of them, he said.
The Elma-Mornington bus will leave from the Listowel Agricultural Society Hall at 8:30 a.m. There is a cost of $25 a person. To reserve a place on the bus, e-mail Howard at Howardwarr@aol.com.
The Clinton bus will be stopping at St. Columban Catholic School at about 7:45 a.m. There is also a $25 fee for a seat to the rally.
The conference is geared to FIT contract holders, developers, manufacturers, suppliers, service providers and government. Former Ontario deputy premier George Smitherman, one of the architects of the Green Energy Act, is a guest speaker.