Thompson Goddard photo
FINCH – The emotion created by the Nation Rise Wind Farm debate still runs high in North Stormont.
Several weeks after the stalled project involving the construction of 29 wind turbines from Crysler to Berwick and Finch was given the green light by a provincial court, after it had been halted by Ontario’s environment minister, North Stormont councillors are still arguing about how they feel about the project.
The go ahead for the project was given in March 2016 and had been challenged by residents ever since.
At the May 26 council meeting a resolution to repeat council’s support for halting the wind turbine farm was defeated. The council had in the past stated that the municipality was an unwilling host for the project.
This time around, despite arguments from Councillor Roxane Villeneuve, council members voted against the idea of branding themselves as unwilling hosts. Dissenting councillors suggested after the province had lost its bid in court to stop the wind farm it was time to move forward and support it as much as they could.
At the June 9 meeting of council, Councillor Villeneuve brought the subject back up with a motion to commit the council to recognition of all of the community opposition to the project. She wanted the council to work on resolving the many issues brought forward by residents who felt the wind farm project was creating problems in their community. despite the decision by the court to allow the project to continue.
The motion was put forward by Councillor Villeneuve, but without any one willing to second her motion it died on the council table.
Villeneuve made a statement regarding her effort to do something for residents who were opposed to the wind farm.
She said, “I am disappointed that all my council colleagues, including Mayor Wert, Deputy Mayor Landry, Councillor Densham and Councillor Douglas all voted against my motion put forward to reaffirm our township’s position as a non-willing host to industrial wind turbines including but not limited to Nation Rise Wind Project/EDPR, and to support the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, Hon. Jeff Yurek, to Protect Species at Risk in the Township of North Stormont.
Villeneuve continued, “ In two past votes, last one being in 2015, council voted to be a ‘non-willing host’, yet when voting to reaffirm this position during last night’s public council Meeting, all other council members voted against it. During debate on this subject matter last night, I stated that during the municipal election campaign in 2018, I ran on a platform to remain an unwilling host and to oppose industrial wind turbine projects in the Township of North Stormont – I won the election with the majority of the vote – and I remain true to my word today and always.
North Stormont Mayor Jim Wert described the mood of the council and the reason for their decision.
He said, “You could write a book on what has gotten us to this stage of the Nation Rise Wind Farm project.”
Wert noted, “The bottom line is the government of the day drafted the Green Energy Act for what they hoped was the greater good. It will be that government’s legacy and time will be the judge of that intent. Government at any level is tasked with making decisions, and last night our council decided again that it is time to move on. We have a great municipality and I am confident that the challenges of this project will not overshadow the strengths of our citizens to work together for that same greater good mentioned earlier.”
He mentioned the effort of Margaret and Tom Benke. “They have worked tirelessly for a cause that was heartfelt and they have conducted themselves with integrity and the upmost professionalism. They deserve the respect and admiration of all our residents regardless of your position on the issue,” he said.