Mock turbine gives serious message

Dave Barr of Lucan is building a replica wind turbine complete with whirling blades of glued, warped wood to mock the wind turbines that are planned to go into Lake Huron near his cottage at Point Clarke. (MIKE HENSEN, The London Free Press)

Lucan contractor hopes his 11-metre tall replica will show people — and provincial officials — just how much of an eyesore these monstrosities will be in Lake Huron

by Ian Gillespie, London Free Press

LUCAN — Dave Barr gazes up at the silver column standing in his driveway.

“I’m sure I’m going to tick a few of my neighbours off,” says the Lucan contractor. “But that’s OK.”

Frankly, Barr is hoping to tick off more than just a few neighbours.  Because when he’s finished, that pillar will stand nearly 11 metres tall — about the height of an average telephone pole. It’ll feature three 2.4-metre long propellers, a blinking red light and a big sign bearing one simple word: No.

In a ballsy bid to protest the province’s proposal to erect wind turbines in Lake Huron near his cottage, and convince other residents that such a wind farm will be an ugly eyesore, Barr is building his own replica of a wind turbine.

Using three cardboard tubes (normally used to mould concrete columns), laminated plywood (for the base and propellers) and reams of duct tape (to coat the columns in silver), Barr is building a mock turbine that he plans to erect on his Point Clark property Saturday.

Barr figures his fake turbine will give local residents an idea of what to expect if the provincial government goes ahead with its proposal to erect the turbines, which typically stand 150 metres high, in Lake Huron between Goderich and Kincardine. Ontario’s Environment Ministry has proposed a five-kilometre buffer between the turbines and shore.

“If people come onto my property and look past the (fake) turbine and out at the lake, it’ll show them what they’re going to see (if actual turbines are erected),” says Barr.

His father established a cottage just north of the historic Point Clark lighthouse in 1959, and Barr says it’s been a longtime ritual to settle into a chair with a glass of wine at the end of the day and admire the sunset.

But Barr is steamed that his view may be marred by a bunch of flashing, flapping towers of metal.

“Just the whole idea of that being in front of us while we’re watching the sunset,” says Barr. “I can’t imagine.”

Barr says he understands the need to find alternative sources of energy. And he concedes that many will view his actions as a selfish display of Nimbyism (Not In My Back Yard).

But he doesn’t mind.

“I don’t know anybody who wants these (turbines) in the lake,” he says.

Like many Lake Huron cottagers, Barr says the wind turbines will lower property values and pose a hazard to boaters. He also questions what will happen to the towers 25 years from now.

“Are my grandchildren going to be looking at a piece of rusted metal out there?” he wonders.

Barr plans to leave his fake turbine up until the Thanksgiving weekend.

“And if (the township) makes me get rid of it, I think I’ll pour some gasoline on it, light it on fire and make a big protest,” he says. “I don’t care what people think — I’m getting too old to worry about that.”

Ian Gillespie is the Free Press city columnist.

5 thoughts on “Mock turbine gives serious message

  1. Wait and see this “Freedom Loving” man get rounded up in a black van and shipped off to jail!

  2. “…many will view his actions as a selfish display of Nimbyism (Not In My Back Yard).”

    Why do people get attacked for NIMBYism, anyway? There are lots of valid things we don’t want in our back yards. Garbage dumps, gravel quarries, auto junkyards, fast food joints….

    Perfectly reasonable not to want them in your back yard. Nobody should have to apologize for it.

    In fact, that’s why municipalities have bylaws and zoning–oh, wait, that’s ancient history now, isn’t it.

  3. This guy gets my full support: I’m just glad to see somebody DO SOMETHING, and not be afraid! Maybe others will feel empowered.
    I hope he knows of the turbine proposal in Luncan as well:
    Lucan Maximum Breeze-
    Maximum Breeze Energy Co-operative
    10000 kW
    Status: Awaiting ECT

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