County to Premier Wynne: NOT willing hosts!
[Report by Henri Garand, Chair, APPEC, on the multi-group protest rally during Premier Wynne’s April 2 visit to Belleville.]
Premier Wynne faces down rural opposition to wind turbines
“NOT willing hosts!” That’s the message Prince Edward County and Amherst Island residents protesting wind energy projects have delivered to Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Over 100 people endured freezing cold and bitter winds to show opposition to Gilead Power’s project at Ostrander Point, wpd Canada’s White Pines project, and Algonquin Power’s project on Amherst Island.
Protestors from the County were members of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC), Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN), South Shore Conservancy (SSC), and the Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy (CCSAGE), which had coordinated the rally. They were joined by residents of Amherst Island.
First, they confronted Premier Wynne at a Belleville restaurant where she was speaking to Liberal Party supporters. Infiltrating the reception, they pressed documents on Wynne and her assistants that describe the potential harm to the natural environment, heritage landscape, and tourist economy, as well as to the health of County residents.
Later, they lined the road leading to the Procter and Gamble plant where Wynne met with Belleville’s business leaders. Upon arrival, Wynne tried to turn the demonstration to her advantage by getting out of her vehicle and speaking to protestors. She offered to hear their concerns after her scheduled meeting.
Fifty people waited for two hours to hear what Wynne had to say. She responded as she has already done at demonstrations in southwestern Ontario. She said her government is reviewing the consultation process.
Amherst Island and County spokespersons were not satisfied. An Amherst Island woman spoke about a turbine to be sited 550 m from her child’s school. The County representative cited the Ostrander Point appeal and the County’s clear unwillingness to host wind projects. Wynne said she knew of Ostrander Point.
Despite public outcries, however, Wynne would not commit to any timeline for a reviewed process or its application to projects that have already received a contract.
The threat to the County’s South Shore and the necessity of the appeal to the Environmental Review Tribunal remain as strong as ever. It is not clear when, or even if, a review of Ontario government policy will respect the opposition of Prince Edward County and Amherst island citizens.
But the pressure on the Premier is definitely mounting. With every visit to rural Ontario Premier Wynne encounters protests on the development of wind energy. She must realize that it’s a growing sign of the need for a new Liberal energy policy or the inevitability of a new Ontario government.