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A blot on the landscape?

The presence of these overwhelming techno-energy giants brings to mind a science fiction novel by H. G. Wells. ...It's hard to see anything else. When I look towards the water, I don't see the natural beauty of Kingston's harbour anymore. I don't see Garden Island, Simcoe Island or even Wolfe Island, as my vision is drawn to these massive propellers waiting in rest or whirling away, depending on the breeze. If the daytime view isn't bad enough, the blinking red warning lights on the towers at night light up the sky like a runway at Pearson International Airport.

These days, Wolfe Island is looking more like an industrial wasteland than one of nature's gems

It's a classic summer morning in Kingston -- the typical summer morning with clear blue skies, brilliant sunshine and a tantalizing sparkle off the water in the harbour. As I pen this missive I'm watching the eastern sun reflect off the Wolfe Island wind turbines. Sadly, the island, in appearance, seems more of an industrial wasteland rather than one of nature's more tranquil settings.

The presence of these overwhelming techno-energy giants brings to mind a science fiction novel by H. G. Wells. Seeing the wind turbines conjures up images of invading space creatures from his work War of the Worlds, with the turbines reaching like tentacles upward to the sky. They certainly tower above the natural treeline.

It's hard to see anything else. When I look towards the water, I don't see the natural beauty of Kingston's harbour anymore. I don't see Garden Island, Simcoe Island or even Wolfe Island, as my vision is drawn to these massive propellers waiting in rest or whirling away, depending on the breeze. If the daytime view isn't bad enough, the blinking red warning lights on the towers at night light up the sky... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

These days, Wolfe Island is looking more like an industrial wasteland than one of nature's gems

It's a classic summer morning in Kingston -- the typical summer morning with clear blue skies, brilliant sunshine and a tantalizing sparkle off the water in the harbour. As I pen this missive I'm watching the eastern sun reflect off the Wolfe Island wind turbines. Sadly, the island, in appearance, seems more of an industrial wasteland rather than one of nature's more tranquil settings.

The presence of these overwhelming techno-energy giants brings to mind a science fiction novel by H. G. Wells. Seeing the wind turbines conjures up images of invading space creatures from his work War of the Worlds, with the turbines reaching like tentacles upward to the sky. They certainly tower above the natural treeline.

It's hard to see anything else. When I look towards the water, I don't see the natural beauty of Kingston's harbour anymore. I don't see Garden Island, Simcoe Island or even Wolfe Island, as my vision is drawn to these massive propellers waiting in rest or whirling away, depending on the breeze. If the daytime view isn't bad enough, the blinking red warning lights on the towers at night light up the sky like a runway at Pearson International Airport.

What got me thinking of our harbour's beauty was not only the view from my window but also two photographs that appeared in the Whig-Standard. Both were of boats plying the waters of Kingston Harbour. The first was our beloved tall ship, St. Lawrence II, and the other was a wee Optimist sailing dinghy. What struck me was that my eye was not drawn to the beauty of the vessel in each photo but rather to the towering wind turbines in the background. I just found it sad.

I am of mixed emotions as to whether these turbines are a source of pride for the local communities. Fair enough that this was a decision for the residents of Wolfe Island, as they own the property where these towering giants sit, but their decision has also affected the lives of those in Kingston and our neighbours to the south in northern New York State.

I've yet to encounter anyone who finds the wind turbines an attractive addition to the already beautiful landscape. In fact, most simply whisper about the project, as saying anything negative is tantamount to heresy. Dissenting opinions are shouted down as anti-progress, anti-change or anti-environment. For the most part, this isn't the case. Everyone's entitled to his or her opinion, and what I'm finding is that for better or worse, the folks I speak with on this side of the harbour don't think the turbines are attractive.

I don't know why the islanders voted to have the wind farm developed on their lands. That was their decision alone. Perhaps it was visceral in nature -- a longing to facilitate change in the world and reduce our carbine footprint through the development of alternative energy sources. The sacrifice of lands and natural beauty today could be well worth the protection of future generations. Alternatively, it's also possible the rise of these massive turbines was the result of a cash grab by those suffering from our flagging economy and seeing a sure bet for income. Who knows for certain?

I just can't seem to get excited by the wind farm and its whirling turbines. It's not that I'm against reducing our carbon footprint or searching for alternatives to fossil fuels. Rather, my concern is that the largest of the islands in the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River, one of creation's most beautiful vistas, has effectively been turned into a 30,000-acre money-producing platform. Let's not lose sight of the fact that the only reasons the company that built the wind turbines came to Wolfe Island were the consistent winds and the desire for profits. The equations are quite simple: For the landowners, the more turbines on their property, the more money in their pockets; and for the corporation driving the project, megawatts equal mega-dollars.

I've heard the term NIMBY (Not in my backyard) used all too often to describe those folks who oppose this and other wind projects. Shamefully, even our premier and local MPP have resorted to using this acronym for those whose opinions are differing from their own. I suppose our premier really doesn't need to be concerned, since if you live in Toronto you can't see the view in Kingston. Likewise for Canadian Hydro Developers Inc.'s corporate officers in Calgary.

Hopefully, when all the Wolfe Island whirlygigs are finally spinning freely they will be a welcome addition to the natural beauty for which the eastern end of Lake Ontario has always been known. At the moment however, I have my doubts.


Source: http://www.thewhig.com/Arti...

JUL 15 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/21179-a-blot-on-the-landscape
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