Residents affected by BC’s first wind project

Desecration of Bear Mountain

by Jon Ferry
Vancouver Province

Never before have so many people lived in cities. And never before have they been so sensitive to nature, especially here in the birthplace of Greenpeace and eco-density.

Egged on by the likes of Mayor Gregor Robertson, the bike-lane champion, and eco-guru David Suzuki, Vancouverites seem to have an almost irresistible urge to go green. After all, there are carbon emissions to be capped and a planet to be saved.

But in life, nothing is for free. And the green dream may well be more elusive than many of us had thought, especially when it comes to green energy . . . and especially when that energy is generated by wind power.

Just ask Garry and Donna Laveck who own a quarter section of land at the base of Bear Mountain near Dawson Creek, where they run a breeding and training ranch for quarter horses.

It was their retirement dream. That is until they found themselves within spitting distance of the Bear Mountain Wind Project, B.C.’s first and only operational wind farm, which has been up and running for more than a year on Crown land adjacent to the Lavecks.

It consists of 34 huge wind turbines that seem to hover over them like a “whirling picket fence,” Garry says.

Now, some folks, especially those who look up at the one atop Grouse Mountain, may think wind turbines are futuristic looking and esthetically pleasing. But not the Lavecks.

They say these giant modern windmills are desecrating a majestic mountain view, driving away bats, birds and other wildlife and driving down the value of the property they’ve called home for 19 years.

Indeed, they dislike almost everything about the turbines, from their strange noise to their red, nighttime lights and the flickering of the sun’s rays as they filter through their 40-metre-long blades.

“Most of the time [the noise] is like a pulsing jet plane that never leaves . . . then sometimes it’s just a constant kind of a rumble,” Garry told me. “Yeah, it’s very annoying. Even when it’s not very loud, it’s not nice to be around.”

Garry, an equipment operator for the local road contractor, insisted he is environmentally conscious. His father was a farmer for 50 years, and he believes we should take care of the Earth, as it takes care of us.

“But as for this green push, I hate it,” he said. “It’s just greenwashing. I think it’s an absolute waste of money and time . . . All they’re doing is dealing out a whole pile of cash to whoever calls something green, it doesn’t matter what it is.”

AltaGas, the Calgary-based operator of the wind farm, offered to buy the Lavecks out. But Garry wonders where he would go: “I’m 55, I don’t care to start all over again.” Besides, he added, there is no place like home.

Now, you may think this is all so much NIMBYism. And certainly the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association didn’t seem very sympathetic Tuesday to the Lavecks’ plight.

“There are people who are ideologically opposed to wind power,” said president Guy Dauncey. “And those people seize any opportunity to find fault in something.”

Dauncey dismissed the Lavecks’ concerns about bird kills, saying the average wind turbine had been found statistically to kill about one bird per year.

“Highrise buildings with office lights in the windows at night kill far more birds than that, let alone cars,” he told me. “But no one suggests that we don’t have office buildings and we don’t have cars.”

As for the supposed ugliness of wind farms, Dauncey said it all depends on your outlook on the future.

“When I see wind turbines spinning, I say, ‘Thank God, someone is looking after our grandchildren’s future.’ When I see a coal-fired power plant, I think, ‘Oh my God, that’s the cause of future enormous problems.’ We do need to stop burning coal for our energy.”

AltaGas said Tuesday that the Bear Mountain project had been subjected to extensive environmental assessment that included “social components.” The company noted that renewable energy, such as wind, fitted in with its strategy of “investing in high-quality assets that create, move and hold energy.”

Wind energy, of course, is far more prevalent in Europe than in Canada. But there’s growing resistance to it there, especially in Britain, and especially from those who have to live near the wind farms themselves.

Myself, I think we should tread extremely warily before approving any more of them in B.C. — just as we would any other potentially troublesome industrial venture.

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8 thoughts on “Residents affected by BC’s first wind project

  1. They didn’t say how close they were to them? Or, if they were close enough that the noise affected their horses.
    The one bird kill of only one a year is a total joke, prove that it’s only one per year.
    I was going to vacation in the area next year, I’m not exactly how close this wind complex is to where I was planning to go — now I will have to look. I will change my plans if close. I’m not about to vacation anywhere near those things.

  2. “AltaGas, the Calgary-based operator of the wind farm”

    Word is, we got lots of gas:

    So what does a gas company want with a wind farm???

    Gas companies love wind! They are even building their own wind farms, buying existing ones and partnering with other wind companies to get as many wind farms built as possible. And why not? Average useful power from wind is somewhere between 20 to 30% of nameplate capacity, meaning of course, that gas is doing the heavy lifting 70 to 80% of the time! With the seemingly endless and bottomless subsidies floating around, this wind/gas arrangement is better then gold!

    Boy are we suckers!

    Sean Holt.

  3. “AltaGas, the Calgary-based operator of the wind farm”

    Sean, how much is the Gas company paying you to say these bad things about wind?


  4. T Boone Pickens, the Gas Man, was the man who pushed the hardest for Wind Turbines down Texas way with exactly that “end game” in mind when he declared himself another “saviour of the world” with his “Green Religion”………..unfortunately the “recession” hasn’t done him much good with Wind so he’s pulled out for the time being……..of course for every ounce of Electricity being produced by Wind there needs to be an ounce of Gas……………

    Greed at it’s worst!

  5. Hey Wegrait…

    I’m guessing you didn’t go to the link in my post?

    I dunno… I’m not sure the wind and companies have enough of our money to get me to say anything good about either of them…

    Unfortunately, that assertion has yet to be tested…


    Sean Holt.

  6. Guy Dauncey you are a fool!

    Thousands of birds and bats are being slaughtered by these cuisinarts of the sky! Studies have proved it! As for lights on in tall buildings killing birds… most birds do not fly at night!!! Furthermore, WHY ARE THOSE LIGHTS ON AT NIGHT???? And where is it exactly that you saw a coal mine shut down because it was replaced with wind? Not in Germany where they have 26 new coal plants to provide base load when the wind doesn’t blow! Certainly not in China ! The days when a pompous, arrogant “President” of a gas company like you can insult people and get away with it are over! Because “people like me” will seize the opportunity to find fault with you and call you a liar that has to protect your self interest!
    Are you sure your grandchildren won’t spit on your grave for putting them in debt over such a redundant technology. It is old fossil heads like you that seize the opportunity to perpetuate greenwashing of the public to line your own pockets instead of tying to invest and promote real solutions. 10 years from now industrial wind turbines will be joke except it will not be funny for the people that have had to abandon their homes as many have had to do in rural Ontario.

  7. Part of me understands why the Lavecks are upset with their spoiled natural landscape. Although it seems ironic, I do sympathize their refusal to be bought out as they’ve been established for almost 2 decades. However being “Spitting distance” from the wind farm sounds to me like a stretch and although it may be disruptive they seem to be closed minded towards something that can only help the environment sooner than we even know. All the best to the Lavecks and who knows, maybe they’ll learn to like their new 530ft tall lawn gnomes. 🙂 Here’s some more wind related news to keep your propellers spinning!

  8. Link not worth checking. Anyone who believes Industrial Wind Turbines are anything more than expensive lawn gnomes have a superficial knowledge of how useless IWTs are on our grid system. IWTs are archaic technology with a bit of white paint and not even close to being environmental.

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