On Aug. 4, my husband and I drove the several kilometres down Highway 61, through construction and gravel country roads to attend the Big Thunder Wind Park Open House held at the Blake Community Hall. When we arrived we were stopped at the door by four Apex security guards. There were also two OPP officers.
One of the security guards told us that no more people were allowed in because the hall was “filled to capacity.” After finding out that the hall capacity was 150 people and by looking at the number of cars in the parking lot, we suspected it was not full.
An OPP officer approached us and said that the “open house” was closed due to a “turn in the mood of the crowd.” Which was it — too full or too moody?
A representative of Horizon came out and gave us some information pamphlets and a survey to fill out. We wanted to hear the proceedings so we were forced to stand outside and listen at an open window.
The discussion indoors sounded orderly and we could not understand why we could not enter. My husband asked to speak to the OPP staff sergeant. He spoke to someone inside, after which we were allowed in.
Upon entering the hall, we were mandatorily videotaped, forced to give our names, address/email and group affiliation, if any, and made to wear nametags. If we did not agree to these terms, we would not be allowed in.
There were additional security guards inside, another OPP officer and at least six representatives of the PR firm hired by Horizon to make sure the citizens of Thunder Bay have a positive view of the company and their wind turbines.
I would like to know who paid for these OPP officers to be at this “open house” instead of doing their regular jobs. Were they on overtime? Was this planned? Were three OPP Officers and six security guards really necessary?
I have never felt so intimidated. I was made to feel like I had done something wrong, and therefore had to be policed and controlled. As concerned, taxpaying citizens, we had every right to attend this so-called “open house.” I wonder how many people will avoid future open houses due to this atmosphere of intimidation. This was a strange way for Horizon Wind to present a project that is supposed to be open and transparent.
Helen and Joseph Cimone, Thunder Bay