By Barbara Simpson — Delhi News-Record, delhinewsrecord.ca
Stepping into the makeshift home of the trio of wind turbine victims is similar to stepping into an abandoned apartment.
Two worn chairs and a pair of tables decorate the modest living room. The kitchen counter is littered with little more than Tim Hortons coffee cups. And a single bed rests in the corner of the sole bedroom — the ultimate luxury for these sleepless women.
“I’m not here to entertain people,” quipped Stephana Johnston, one of the renters. “I’m here to sleep.”
As simplistic as that may sound, that’s exactly why these three women — who have their own places near Lake Erie — have invested in this Delhi apartment. Johnston, along with Kay Armstrong and Tracy Whitworth, are escaping the Cultus/Frogmore/Clear Creek Industrial Wind Turbine Zone — three sets of six wind turbines that they claim have triggered health problems.
Johnston, the 79-year-old former federal Green Party candidate, has a laundry list of symptoms. She has suffered with pressure in her ears, vertigo, nausea and twitching in her legs.
“I didn’t expect it,” she said. “I didn’t know why I was naïve to think I’m a Canadian and I can take it.”
Initially, Johnston and several residents objected to the massive wind turbine project due to its potential impact on migratory birds. They formed an advocacy group, first unsuccessfully appearing before Norfolk council and later unsuccessfully appealing to the Ontario Municipal Board in 2005.
Slowly, the 18 industrial wind turbines came onboard in sets. However, the adverse health reactions didn’t start to be unleashed until the final Clear Creek set came online, Johnston said. She remembers the exact date — Nov. 22, 2008.
“That’s when the effect — the full effect of all 18 — affected us,” she said.
Over time, neighbours began to compare symptoms and eventually met at Johnston’s house. Some of these residents have now gone on to form the Norfolk Victims of Industrial Wind Turbines, chronicling their health issues and advocating for relief.
Last week, Johnston was even successful in seeking Norfolk council’s support for a moratorium on industrial wind turbines. The county is now No. 60 out of 440 Ontario municipalities supporting a moratorium, according to Johnston. She believes more municipalities will jump on board as word continues to spread.
“As people learn more about this, more and more people will err on the side of caution,” she said.
In Maine, Dr. Nina Pierpont has been investigating and writing on members of her own community that believe their health has suffered due to wind turbines. She has a relief fund dedicated to helping victims. Johnston and her roommates benefited from $2,500 of that funding.
However, the bills continue to mount up. The Delhi apartment costs $680 per month, plus utilities. This is in addition to the expenses of running a home.
It has become too much for Johnston, who is the primary user of the apartment. She will say goodbye to her Delhi sleeping quarters and now possibly move into her son Ross’s trailer.
“It’s gone the end of June,” she said. “Now I have to look for a less expensive strategy to deal with it.”
In the meantime, Johnston keeps hope that her symptoms will disappear and her living situation will improve.
“Every morning when I get up and say my prayers, I say, ‘Please don’t let the wind turn for Clear Creek, Cultus and Frogmore,’” she said.