By Jamie Smith tbnewswatch
A group of concerned citizens is blown away by the city’s plan to lease land near Big Thunder to make a wind farm. Around 50 people were at the Neebing Roadhouse Tuesday evening to form the first Nor’Wester Mountains Escarpment Citizens Coalition meeting. The group discussed environmental, social and health concerns about the proposed Big Thunder Wind Park; a 27 megawatt farm that would place 18 turbines across the Neebing skyline.
Coalition interim chair John Beals said he first heard about the project two years ago when he received a letter in the mail from Horizon Wind. He said the deal between Thunder Bay and Horizon Wind was done behind closed doors in March 2007 because the city corporation owns 17,000 acres of land that the project would be built on. According to the coalition, each turbine would require four acres of clear-cut land. The Toronto company has since held two public meetings about the project. Beals said it would be a shame to lose the land before any other discussions could take place.
“What’s overtop of that escarpment very few people have seen in their lifetime,” Beals said adding the land includes two-thirds of the Loch Lomond Lake shoreline. “It’s as though nobody sees it and nobody cares about it.”
Loch Lomond Ski Area owner Ward Bond said he’s in favour of green energy but the project could be devastating for his ski hill. He said he has no idea why the city wouldn’t consult him. Bond said he called the city Monday but hasn’t heard back from them yet.
“I think that was so bad of the city to just go ahead and do this behind closed doors. I didn’t even read about it in the newspaper. It’s not public knowledge. I’d like to know what the city’s getting out of it,” said Bond. “It’s not green energy it’s green money.”
The project would place 400 foot turbines on top of the Nor’Wester Mountains between Copin Road and Hacquoil Road. Residents at the meeting voiced concerns from internet research they have done on wind farms. They said endangered wildlife, noise pollution and moving shadows from the blades of the turbines known as “flickering” could jeopardize their neighbourhoods.
“Why are you ruining our way of life and the things we hold dear?” asked Beals who also owns the Neebing Roadhouse. “No one knows what took place (in meetings between the city and Horizon Wind). We just know something is wrong.”
Horizon Wind issued a letter to residents Monday stating that the project is on hold until it undergoes an environmental assessment under the new provincial Renewable Energy Approval regulation.