Wind development opponents strategize during final days before last public meeting
By Susan Hundertmark
Now is not the time to give up.
That’s the message Huron East Against Turbines (HEAT) brought to a half-empty Knights of Columbus Hall in St. Columban last Thursday, May 3 when organizers presented their financial statement and offered to help local landowners present their concerns about the proposed 15-turbine St. Columban Energy LP wind development.
“The crowd is a little bit small tonight and we know the community is losing faith in what’s going to happen here. But, it’s not the time to lose hope,” said HEAT member Gerry Ryan, who encouraged St. Columban residents to continue to make their concerns known to the Ministry of the Environment, the municipality of Huron East and the wind development company’s consultant Stantec.
With the final public meetings being held this week (May 8 and 9) by St. Columban Energy LP in Seaforth and Brussels before the proposed project is submitted for approval to the Ministry of the Environment, HEAT members urged local landowners to have their say as soon as possible.
“On May 8, we will have 30 days and in theory, they could make a decision on the 31st day so in June, we could hear if the wind project’s been accepted by the MOE. And, then that would give us 15 days to appeal the approval if they get it,” said HEAT member Jeanne Melady.
While HEAT received a binder containing the 1,354-page St. Columban wind draft plan two weeks ago, Melady said HEAT members had pledged to Huron East council that they would do their best to plow through the report and bring their questions to council, who could then pass them on to the MOE.
“We should all be screaming about the pressure to do consultation when there is no time. We need to tell the Ministry that this is not true consultation,” she said.
HEAT asked for an extension of the 30-day consultation period to 90 days, a request that was endorsed by Huron East council at its May 1 meeting but Melady encouraged ratepayers to contact their councillors asking Huron East to write a letter of their own to the MOE with the same request.
Ryan showed community members a map of the location of proposed turbines in the project, pointing out circumstances when turbines are located too close to the roadway or close enough to a bordering neighbour that they would end up on the neighbour’s property if they fell over.