A storm is brewing over wind turbines in the municipality of nation, east of Ottawa.
Town council tonight plans to reverse an earlier decision to give the green-light to two massive projects. Two private companies have proposed to develop separate industrial wind turbine projects in St. Isidore and St. Bernardin, in Nation municipality, about an hour east of Ottawa. Council initially supported the bid but at a council meeting Monday evening, Nation’s mayor was planning to move to reverse that decision, after a massive appeal by local residents. This has been a contentious issue in many parts of Ontario as more and more landowners rent their properties to companies looking to set up these wind turbine farms.
What is unusual here is a municipality's change of heart.
Steve Dick and his wife moved out to the peaceful rural area of St. Isidore for just that: peace and quiet.
‘We’ve been here for more than 26 years,’ says Dick, ‘looking to be in the country, to enjoy the peace and serenity and sense of community.’
It is something the couple worries will be destroyed if a wind turbine project goes ahead as planned at a farm across the road from them.
‘And we don’t want to see that ruined by bringing a big industrial complex out here,’ Dick adds.
More than a year ago, Nation council gave unanimous support in way of a resolution to build between 30 and 40 wind turbines in one part of the municipality through a company called EDF ED Canada Inc, and 15 or so in another, through a company called Leader Resources.
Residents say the meetings were done in private and they launched a very public appeal, using lawn signs that appear throughout the community. It was a persuasive campaign that has resonated with the municipality’s mayor, Francois St-Amour, who says the issue or wind turbines has been a volatile one.
‘It has been tearing communities apart,’ says St-Amour.
he mayor says with 80% of residents against the projects, he decided to try to reverse an earlier motion supporting the plan.
‘So this afternoon, I will introduce a motion to declare the municipality of the Nation an “unwilling host” to windmills,’ says the mayor. He says he has the support of all councilors.
The senior developer with company planning the larger project in St. Isidore, EDF EN Canada, says it is disappointed by the reversal and adds the project would be lucrative for the municipality. It had initially negotiated a community benefit fund of approximately $150,000 a year and says, based on increased competition; it can now offer $300,000 plus the $150,000 in additional property taxes.
‘It was something we were looking to explore with the municipality going forward,’ says Gallagher, ‘what additional benefits we could offer to the community.’
Gallagher added in an email obtained by CTV News that the company had already invested significant funds towards the community based on council’s initial support for its project, including purchasing a water fountain at the arena, sponsoring a hockey dinner and school BBQ and buy hockey pucks for a local contest.
But residents remain steadfast in their belief that giant windmills don't belong in their little community.
‘We’re not for sale,’ says Julie Leroux, one of the key opponents of the plan, ‘We are not for sale.’