Opinion

MERRIAM: Wind turbine solution gone with the wind

By Jim Merriam, Toronto Sun

Council members for the Town of South Bruce Peninsula listened to their constituents this week and passed a resolution opposing wind factories in the municipality.

The resolution was passed in front of a crowd of 50 — some 20 others couldn’t be squeezed into chambers — and in the face of multi-name petitions presented to council.

Although awkward, the municipality’s name pinpoints its location as the gateway to the famous Bruce Peninsula.

As described by Wikipedia, the peninsula is “a popular tourist destination for camping, hiking and fishing, the area has two national parks (Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park), more than half a dozen nature reserves, and the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory. The Bruce Trail runs through the region . . .

“The Bruce also is a key area for both plant and animal wildlife. Part of the Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve, the peninsula has the largest remaining area of forest and natural habitat in southern Ontario and is home to some of the oldest trees in eastern North America.”

The description goes on and on extolling the beauty and natural significance of the Peninsula.

It is in this area that corporations hope to erect a total of 275 wind turbines. Of these, 125 are planned for South Bruce Peninsula.

This week’s action by council means South Bruce joins some 90 other municipalities in Ontario that have opposed wind factory developments.

But the battle here is unique and not just because “at the first sight of the Bruce Peninsula the visitor cannot but be aware of a land astonishingly unlike any he has seen before,” as author William Sherwood Fox wrote in 1952.

Nor is the battle on the Bruce simply another volley fired by frustrated rural Ontario residents against the Dalton Gang for putting the interests of offshore corporations ahead of local people. In fact, the proposals in this area draw attention to the folly of the government’s green energy policies by illustrating it could all have been done a better way.

Two turbines have been producing power with every wind for several years near Ferndale, just a few miles north of the council meeting site.

These turbines are not of the massive and intrusive type, such as those being proposed today. But they have been operating with nary a problem.

Besides size, the difference between these working turbines and the proposed wind factories is that local interests developed the existing turbines.

And therein lies the key to everything that is wrong with the McGuinty government’s wind initiative. Under the Grits, local interests take a back seat to those of the aforementioned international corporations.

Members of the Dalton Gang have leaned so far over backwards to facilitate these corporate interests that the resolutions passed by South Bruce Peninsula and other municipalities mean next to nothing because local control, democratic rights and the interests of the people are ignored by the province.

It didn’t have to be this way. As the working turbines on the peninsula attest, local folks are interested in green energy, too.

Any plan for turbines that remotely considered the interests of the people of the province and allowed them to participate in the process with small windmills on their properties would have avoided the people-vs.-­government fiasco of today.

The Bruce Peninsula and area are a stark reminder that representative democracy could have made this all work, had it not been ignored by the province.

jmerriam@bmts.com


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