THUNDER BAY, ON ------- October 5, 2010 ---- The Nor’wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee today released its own Public Consultation Report which outlines their events, news items, meetings and programs held to date regarding the proposed industrial wind farm on the Nor’Wester Mountains.
The original report is being sent to Doris Dumais, Director of the Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch for the Ministry of the Environment. The MOE requires all wind energy project proponents to conduct proper public consultation to satisfy their Renewable Energy Application.
The required community consultation is expected to take place early in the project; unfortunately this did not happen. Horizon Wind reported they began this project in 2005 and the community learned of the project late in 2009. The City of Thunder Bay did not engage in any public consultation whatsoever since signing a license in 2006 and an Option to Lease in 2007. Due to the lack of true public consultation efforts, the Committee felt it necessary to document their own Public Consultation including their four Open Houses, weekly and monthly Community Meetings and prepare this Report.
Irene Bond, President for the NMEPC reports “We feel that there has been very little truthful, technical knowledge provided to the community and therefore undertook an educational campaign.
The lack of an open, transparent, timely
process is what brought our group together.” Even Horizon’s Open Houses were held far too late in the process as evidenced in their answer to the question:
“Why can’t the turbines be located farther from the residents, the protected peregrine falcon, the rare to our area maple forest, the ski area, the cross-country trail system, since you had 17,000 acres to work with?”
The answer “We won’t move them because we won’t”. (Horizon’s Project Coordinator at Open House, Blake Hall, August 25, 2010). Bond added “The presence of armed security including Apex Security, OPP, City of Thunder Bay Police, left some residents intimidated. The Open House format made it very difficult to ask even the simplest question. We feel responses to our concerns have been evasive and very vague, and at times, insulting to those professionals who live in the area and understand the implications of changes to the environment, the watershed, the hydro grid, power costs, health concerns, view sheds, tourism, etc.”
The NMEPC strongly feel that all these issues should have been addressed and openly discussed with the public and that without all the facts and information, the Ministry of Environment, City Council or the public cannot make appropriate decisions, nor can they have a true sense or reflection of what really will be impacted. Bond adds, “Through this document we are asking the MOE that they require Horizon Wind Inc. to establish a proper public consultation process as necessary to satisfy their Renewable Energy Application.”
The NMEPC public consultation events and open information sessions were voluntarily researched, promoted and produced for the benefit of educating all community residents.