By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
MPP Bill Mauro says he’s met with opponents of Horizon Wind’s proposed turbine farm slated for the Nor’Wester Mountain Range, but when push comes to shove, it’s the city’s decision whether or not to let the project go ahead.
The Liberal MPP, who represents Thunder Bay-Atikokan, on Thursday said he thinks the Nor’Wester Mountain Escarpment Protection Committee are aware that the only role the province has in the decision is co-ordinating the environmental assessment process and nothing more.
“Like any project of this scope, that’s the province’s role, the environmental assessment, no more, no less,” Mauro said. “At the end of the day what’s occurred is that a private developer has a contractual arrangement with the City of Thunder Bay as a landholder, and it will be up to the City of Thunder Bay to decide how they want to move forward with this company.”
Horizon Wind, which will hold the third and fourth of four planned open houses on Monday and Tuesday, is seeking permission to place 18 turbines on top of the mountain, a move that have many in the Neebing ward neighbourhood up in arms.
Opponents have cited everything from decreased property values to environmental impact and increased power costs as reasons why they don’t want the $75-million project to go ahead, and earlier this month questioned why Mauro and his Thunder Bay-Superior North counterpart Michael Gravelle were not at either of the first two open houses held.
Mauro said while his government is trying to establish a green-energy industry in Ontario, it’s not pushing the technology on any community.
“Anybody who is a private landowner, who wishes to engage in a contractual relationship with a green-energy provider, that’s entirely up to them. Nothing that the province has done forces anybody as a private landowner to do anything,” Mauro said.
“It’s entirely up to them if they so choose to enter into an agreement contractually with any developer, whether it’s wind energy, solar energy or anything else.”
Gravelle, who said he won’t be in attendance Monday or Tuesday night, said he supports renewable energy and the opportunities that might be available for wind turbine development, and that while he knows the Nor’Wester proposal has been a controversial one, efforts have been made to work with the community as a whole.
It seems to have worked in his riding, he added, where wind farms in Dorion and Shuniah have begun with little or no fanfare.
Gravelle said wind farms provide tremendous economic activity in hard-hit communities and brings about clean, green, renewable energy.
“I will continue to work with my communities in the best possible way, and if issues arise, I’ll be working with those as well.”
Monday’s open house is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Nor’Wester Resort Hotel. Tuesday’s meeting will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Blake Community Hall.