Public meeting to be held by county council
By Ron Giofu/The Amherstburg Echo
ESSEX — Essex County council and the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) have stepped into the offshore wind turbine debate with many voices of opposition heard amongst the two organizations.
County council has agreed to host a public meeting in the future with the proponents and public in attendance. A date and location was not set, as county administration will seek a venue large enough to hold the crowds they anticipate.
SouthPoint Wind is proposing approximately 700 turbines in both Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair.
Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara said public meetings he attended were held in small venues even though large crowds attended. The public meeting will be run as a county council meeting so that attempts can be made to control it.
Kingsville Deputy Mayor Katherine Gunning wanted county council to commit to help fund any necessary studies needed to give a detailed look on turbines’ potential impact in the lakes.
Gunning added she had no problem with a public meeting, but wanted more answers provided by the wind company at the public meeting than what was held at previous meetings.
Amherstburg Mayor Wayne Hurst said they can all agree on the importance of renewable energy but placing them in the lakes isn’t the way to do it.
“It’s something that shouldn’t happen. It’s something that shouldn’t be contemplated,” said Hurst.
Gary Koestler of the Citizens Against Lake Erie Wind Turbine (CALEWT) group appeared before ERCA board of directors Thursday night with concerns over part of the project that involves the Pigeon Bay portion of Lake Erie. While many on the board agreed, they pointed out the issue involves a much larger area than just the Pigeon Bay portion.
Tecumseh Deputy Mayor Tom Burton said they should “get together with all municipalities and have a united front” when dealing with the issue. That was agreed upon by other ERCA board members.
“We need a regional approach and we need to come together,” said Amherstburg Councillor Rick Fryer.
Fryer said they have to “protect” the water and said the province is putting the onus on the municipalities and the ratepayers as they try to fight the offshore wind proposal.
“I don’t think anyone could grasp what could happen if you put this many turbines in our lakes,” said Fryer.
He said the province should have already done the necessary studies on potential impacts wind turbines in the lakes could have.
“Our ministries should have looked into it for us,” said Fryer.
ERCA will ask the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) to approach the province about having the province help pay for studies in renewable energy cases and to restore planning powers lost as part of the Green Energy Act.