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Wolfe Islander shares wind experiences; Visiting mayor offers account of 86-turbine farming development

Jim Vanden Hoek, the mayor of the Township of Frontenac Islands, may not have realized how his words would be taken when referring to the centre of wind turbines development on Wolfe Island as "ground zero" at the public wind energy meeting at the Picton Arena Wednesday night. "I'm seeing a lot of shaking of heads, just bear with me," he said as he presented to a crowd of over 200 people who, judging by their comments and questions, appeared largely against wind farm development in Prince Edward. He pointed to a green map of Wolfe Island dotted with red.

Jim Vanden Hoek, the mayor of the Township of Frontenac Islands, may not have realized how his words would be taken when referring to the centre of wind turbines development on Wolfe Island as "ground zero" at the public wind energy meeting at the Picton Arena Wednesday night.

"I'm seeing a lot of shaking of heads, just bear with me," he said as he presented to a crowd of over 200 people who, judging by their comments and questions, appeared largely against wind farm development in Prince Edward.

He pointed to a green map of Wolfe Island dotted with red.

"The red dots are where the turbines are going to be," said Vanden Hoek.
Heads shook again.

With growing public interest in wind farming developments, Mayor Leo Finnegan called for the town hall meeting in council last month.

The meeting lasted two hours, with presentations from Vanden Hoek as well as representatives from provincial ministries closely tied to wind farming projects , the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and Ministry of Environment (MOE).

County Councillors Brian Marisett, Barry Turpin, Lori Slik and Peter Mertens were present as well as former mayor James Taylor.

Six different wind energy companies currently have... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Jim Vanden Hoek, the mayor of the Township of Frontenac Islands, may not have realized how his words would be taken when referring to the centre of wind turbines development on Wolfe Island as "ground zero" at the public wind energy meeting at the Picton Arena Wednesday night.

"I'm seeing a lot of shaking of heads, just bear with me," he said as he presented to a crowd of over 200 people who, judging by their comments and questions, appeared largely against wind farm development in Prince Edward.

He pointed to a green map of Wolfe Island dotted with red.

"The red dots are where the turbines are going to be," said Vanden Hoek.
Heads shook again.

With growing public interest in wind farming developments, Mayor Leo Finnegan called for the town hall meeting in council last month.

The meeting lasted two hours, with presentations from Vanden Hoek as well as representatives from provincial ministries closely tied to wind farming projects , the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and Ministry of Environment (MOE).

County Councillors Brian Marisett, Barry Turpin, Lori Slik and Peter Mertens were present as well as former mayor James Taylor.

Six different wind energy companies currently have projects planned for Prince Edward County and were given the green light to continue after council chose not to adopt an interim control bylaw that would have placed a moratorium on turbine development.

Wolfe Island is currently in the construction phase of an 86-turbine development. Vanden Hoek's presentation was the highlight of the evening as he gave county residents an impression of what they may be about to go through in the development process. Vanden Hoek admitted his bias to the crowd, saying he pushed for turbine development on the island.

He said property on Wolfe Island is almost entirely zoned residential.

"If you have 99.9 per cent of your tax base residential you know that you will have some challenges in paying for services," said Vanden Hoek.

Wolfe Island is part of the Township of the Frontenac Islands, which consists of Wolfe Island and Howe Island. It has a council of only five councilors, two from each island and a mayor elected at large.

Vanden Hoek characterized himself as being from the "older school" of Wolfe Island thinking.

"This community used to be fairly dynamic in terms of its agriculture community," he said.

"Now we're probably a community of commuters but we're in denial."

Vanden Hoek said his experience through debate with both the public and council has told him that people generally frame these projects based on their background and ties to the area.

"When you're looking at economic projects you come out of it with a certain set of glasses on," he said. "But you might have a different perspective on things if you are a long term resident."

The project fits within the province's official plan, which encourages development of renewable energy resources.

Brian Sears of the MNR said there is an increased demand for energy in Ontario, and the province requires 2,700 megawatts of renewable energy by 2010 and about 16,000 megawatts by 2025.

"The ministry as directed by the Ontario Power Authority is to prepare a plan that will double the renewable energy supply and strengthen the transmission system," said Sears.

Components for the project are currently being shipped in from Europe. The Wolfe Island project is valued at $450 million and will have the capability to power all the homes in Kingston.

The project was awarded to Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. in 2005 and will generate 2.3 megawatts to the provincial power grid. An amenities agreement with the developer will give the municipality $40 million over the next 40 years.

The footprint of the turbines is large, covering 50 properties and about 80 per cent of the island. The turbines are expected to be operational by next summer.

Construction will provide employment to 250 workers in the Wolfe Island and Kingston area , which was a strong selling point for Vanden Hoek.

"If there is one thing that strikes a chord with me it's that I have youth working today that weren't working before," he said. "They can't be up all night because they have to work the next day."

Nearing the end of his presentation Vanden Hoek turned to Finnegan and offered a word of warning.

"You will change councils during this project, and as smart as everyone thinks they are the planning process and the environmental screening process are very complex," he said.

"If I could have one thing back I would spend a lot more time and money on councilor training."

He also concluded by urging the mayor to address all concerns of the public as wind farming projects in Prince Edward move forward.

You need to be sensitive and flexible enough throughout the entire process," he said.

Gord Gibbons, chair of the Alliance to Protect Price Edward County, asked about the setbacks between residences and turbines in the Wolfe Island project.

"One would hope the setbacks are at least as much as the height of the turbines," said Gibbons. "You wouldn't want anyone getting hurt if they were to fall over."

Vanden Hoek said the setbacks on Wolfe Island are some of the largest for a turbine development and range anywhere from 50 to 600 m depending on the zoning and usage of an abutting property.

Garry Mooney, chair of the Concerned Citizens of Prince Edward, wanted to know the level of the amenities agreement and how well it compares to others in similar projects.

"Every agreement will try to eclipse the one before it," said Vanden Hoek. "But I'm not aware today that there is an amenities agreement in the order of magnitude that this municipality agreed."

Further opposition was voiced as members of the public continued toward the microphone to speak.

Dennis Milton lives near Gilead Power's Ostrander Point site where a project of 12 turbines is proposed.

When the Ontario government acquired this land they said it would be designated a wildlife protection area," said Milton. "So we're a little dismayed."

Gilles Maramontes urged council not to make any "hasty decisions".

We've seen the result of hasty decisions at Shire Hall," said Maramontes.


Source: http://www.pictongazette.co...

AUG 22 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/16684-wolfe-islander-shares-wind-experiences-visiting-mayor-offers-account-of-86-turbine-farming-development
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