“I have received information from other groups in South Western Ontario that proponents have been revisiting councils who have wind turbine projects proposed for their areas in an effort to gain their approval,” said Bruce Albers, president of the South Branch Wind Opposition Group.
Concerned by the information, Albers and the opposition group sent a letter to several governmental representatives including council members for both South Dundas and Edwardsburgh/Cardinal townships as well as local members of parliament and members of provincial parliament.
“The letter was to remind both South Dundas and Edwardsburgh/Cardinal councils that there is a significant number of residents who oppose these projects,” said Albers, “meaning councils should not assume the community is in favour of such projects.”
In the letter, the group stated: “We sincerely hope that if the Ontario government initiates any call to municipalities, townships or counties soliciting support that the broader public, including groups such as ours, will be consulted and included in the determination of any assignment of ‘points’.”
Premier Dalton McGuinty’s recent changes to the Green Energy Act outline a points system whereby a community’s interest in wind projects is determined. The initiative is meant to help those communities who want the projects to get them more quickly.
There is not, as of yet, a system or device by which a community can outright refuse projects.
The South Branch Wind Opposition Group’s letter ended with a plea: “Your assistance in ensuring that all voices of affected residents are considered and heard in this divisive debate is appreciated.”
On June 4th, South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds reported that council has not been approached by any wind company proponents other than Prowind Canada.
He also confirmed that council has not been approached by any provincial governmental body in relation to the points system.
“We will follow whatever the protocol is,” said Byvelds, in reference to dealing with any future contact from possible wind company proponents.
The Prowind Public Meeting at Matilda Hall in Dixon’s Corners on September 29th is no longer “the final public meeting” for the proposed South Branch Wind Farm in Brinston.
Cathy Weston, Managing Director of Prowind Canada, told the Leader that there will be a few more meetings. Prowind, who has a strong “commitment to the community” feels it’s necessary to slow down and give the community more time to process.
Weston, who has “been friends with some of these landowners” feels very strongly about moving forward at a pace that is comfortable for residents of South Dundas.
According to Prowind Canada information, “the South Branch Wind Farm is proposed as a 30 megawatt (MW) renewable energy generation facility. Once constructed, the facility will be able to produce enough renewable electricity to power approximately 7,500 homes per year.”
“South Branch Wind Farm will use wind turbines to harness kinetic energy from the wind and, by means of an electrical generator, convert to electricity.”
“The commercial scale turbines proposed for the South Branch Wind Farm will consist of three main components: foundation, tower, and nacelle/rotor. Modern turbines self-regulate, optimize, and monitor output parameters using a variety of sophisticated instrumentation.”
The turbines haven’t been decided upon or purchased as of yet because, Weston pointed out, “(we are) trying to leave our options open (in an) economic sense (due to) domestic content rules (that say a product) needs to be 50 per cent Ontario based.”
Aside from the creation of jobs and the expected renewable energy, in terms of benefits to the community, Weston refers to the estimated $70,000 per year tax benefit. She also mentioned that Prowind would be donating $25,000 for a community fund, “provided each year following commissioning of the project, and through to the end of the 20 year contract.”
The Prowind project officially got underway in South Dundas in early 2008. Weston, who has a background in project management, joined Prowind in 2008 after learning about a similar initiative in her neighbourhood in the southwest of Ottawa.
“It’s a transparent company,” said Weston. They don’t hide information, they’re honest and open with the public. She went on to say that “what I want to do, we do.” It’s “a push for green energy.”
According to opposition group, Wind Concerns Ontario (WCO), green doesn’t always equal good.
WCO state that they’re “a province-wide advocacy organization whose mission is to protect the health, safety and quality of life of the people of Ontario from industrial wind turbines.”
The group’s main concerns seem to revolve around the mass production of wind farms without adequate consultation with local landowners. With the great number of public meetings and the open door policy of information sharing, Prowind Canada doesn’t appear to fall into this category.
In addition, WCO voice concern about the effects of wind farms on property values, public health, wildlife health and habitat, as well as noise and esthetic issues.
When questioned about WCO’s concerns, Weston pointed to the vast studies and experts that Prowind has brought in to help determine what, if any, issues exist or may arise from the project.
Prowind’s experts are chosen based on their accreditation and references. For example, the archaeology expert is “accredited by the Archaeological Society of Ontario.”
She referred to the “scientific evidence” where there was “nothing to show link” between wind farms and ill health, saying that the Chief Medical Officer for Ontario found “no link.”
Weston went on to say that Ontario has the “strictest laws” set up and that Prowind does “follow all the guidelines.”
Information, documentation, related studies, plans and so forth were in abundance at the meeting. Questions, suggestions, opinions and discussion were all welcome.
One such available study, “The Health Impact of Wind Turbines: A Review of the Current White, Grey, and Published Literature” for Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit in June 2008 had the following statement by Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Acting Medical Officer of Health at the time: “In summary, as long as the Ministry of Environment Guidelines for location criteria of wind farms are followed, it is my opinion that there will be negligible adverse health impacts on Chatham-Kent citizens. Although opposition to wind farms on aesthetic grounds is a legitimate point of view, opposition to wind farms on the basis of potential adverse health consequences is not justified by the evidence.”
A report on the “Impacts of Windmill Visibility on Property Values in Madison County, New York” by Ben Hoen suggested “the possibility that effects are more myth than reality.”
The report, which claims there were “no effects” on property values, gives reasons for the findings: “The windmill array fits the landscape; wind farming fits this community’s ‘sense of place;’ the payments the community received ‘balanced’ any adverse impacts.”
In terms of further opposition, the Leader questioned Weston about the current political situation.
Premier Dalton McGuinty’s decision to shut down the gas-fired power plant in Mississauga recently resulted in a call to Liberals by Progressive Conservative candidate for MPP of SD&SG, Jim McDonell on September 26th “to listen to families in Brinston and stop the proposed industrial wind farms in their backyard before it reaches the construction phase.”
While Weston admitted that some people are feeling a “nervousness about change” where the wind farm is concerned, she feels that the overall public feedback has been positive.
When asked what Prowind would do in the event of a political change affecting their project, she said that it would be “really disappointing to have to go back to the drawing board again.”
The South Branch Wind Farm is a “great step forward in renewable energy” and, in addition, it would “be a shame for a lot of manufacturing plants (because there are a lot of) jobs right now that would be lost.”
In any case, “we (Prowind Canada) remain committed to this project.” She added that “it’s been developed responsibly.”
The project originally called for 15 turbines, but due to some questions about impact to the location of one of the turbines, Prowind decided to drop the number.
The 14 left have all been mapped. Only two houses in the area come within 600 metres of a turbine. The rest are at least one kilometre away from residences.
According to Weston, the average wind farm project achieves completion in about “the four year range.”
In terms of project time from start to completion for the South Branch project, she estimates that it “is between five and six years all together.” The extra time is due to the fact that the government “regulations changed and the project was put on hold at one point. Also, more notably, Prowind “want(ed) to do things properly.”
While there are large wind energy companies in Canada, Prowind Canada is just one of a very few small-sized wind energy companies in Ontario.
Mayor Steven Byvelds attended the meeting. In speaking with the Leader he said the project “has its merit – as long as everything is done right.”
B. McNairn-Leader staff
MORRISBURG–With the holiday season once again just around the corner, artists and crafters are putting the finishing touches on their work for the annual Morrisburg and District Arts and Crafts Association Show coming up at the Morrisburg Legion, November 16 and 17.
Busy preparing her pieces for the show is artist Sally Munnings of Cardinal, formerly of New Zealand.
Over the years, Munnings has created a huge number of paintings many of them capturing the beauty of her adopted New Zealand where she and her husband Ron lived for 37 years. Her portfolio shows her versatility as an artist and her dramatic use of colour, sometimes bold and vibrant, sometimes soft and subtle.
“I grew up in Brockville,” says Sally recalling how her and husband Ron packed up their family of three youngsters all under the age of 10 years and headed off for life in New Zealand.
“It’s a lovely country,” says Sally. “It is small but you see such a variety of scenery.”
Sally and Ron remained in New Zealand for 37 years until the earthquake of February 2011, which severely damaged Christchurch, the second largest city in New Zealand.
“Christchurch suffered badly with the earthquake,” says Sally. “Our home was okay, but we lost a lot of our belongings. It just felt that it was time to come back home. My daughter (Mary Kate Munnings) had been here for 20 years.”
Sally worked in a hospital occupational therapy department while in New Zealand. Although she always dabbled in her art, it was when she retired that she really took it up.
“I started in oils, but now I work in acrylics. I find the acrylics, very versatile and easy. You can leave it for ages and go back to it.”
“In New Zealand, when I was near retirement, I did a night school course and the instructor asked me if I was interested in enrolling in a school certification course. Because I had never done anything in high school, I had nothing to measure my work by. I did university entrances as well.”
“I also began to cast around for groups to join, and there were groups in Christchurch that worked indoors and outdoors. I met a lot of friends.”
Of her work, Sally says “I like to try different things. If I see something that looks interesting, then I will try it. I probably don’t have any particular style.”
“Most of my work has been done since I retired. Eventually, I joined quite a few groups, and eventually it took over my life.”
“I would often start a piece at home and work at it in a group. One group tudor was a high school art teacher. He was really good at critiquing; pointing out what would make your painting better. He was wonderful.”
Upon her return to Canada, Sally again searched out art groups. She is currently involved with a group in South Grenville. We meet once a week in Prescott. It’s very social and it provides me with incentive. We help one another and learn from each other.”
Sally’s portfolio includes everything, paintings that depict the landscape and buildings in New Zealand to portraits and animals and abstracts. Her fun personality is evident in many of the pieces, for example her painting of a shoe tree made of stylish and colourful shoes. Later she added Christmas gifts under the colourful shoe tree and this became the cover for her Christmas greeting cards. Each of the pieces in her portfolio is marked to indicate those she has sold, those she has given away and those available for sale.
“The grey dots are the ones I destroyed, because I didn’t like them,” she says with a laugh.
Sally says she has found plenty of scenes and landscapes in and around the Cardinal-Prescott area to keep her brushes busy. “I’ve also done a series of old barns between Belleville and Kingston, and behind the Cardinal to Ingleside communities.”
For the upcoming Morrisburg and District Arts and Crafts Association show, Sally will have much of her regular work on display, along with an assortment of miniature paintings. She shares a booth with her daughter, Mary Kate who is a seamstress.
This year’s Arts and Crafts Show has been shortened to two days, Saturday and Sunday from its previous three day event at the Morrisburg Legion. In addition, the Association this year is accepting donations of a loonie or non-perishable food item at the door which will be donated to the local Dundas County Food Bank.
A loonie donation will also enter the donor into a door prize draw.
Association chair, Linda Schenck says it is a full house for this year’s show with over 24 vendors and artists planning to attend. “We have some new faces and some old faces. I am very excited.”
Schenck is also happy to welcome a friend from Nova Scotia who is bringing along her thrummed mittens. For those not in the know, a thrum is a piece of unspun fleece that is knit into the mittens, making their insides soft and fuzzy, and very warm. It is a technique associated with our East Coast Provinces.
The Presbyterian Church women will be offering up their popular luncheon food services and there here will also be baked goods tables. The show will run from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on both days.