By Denis Langlois, Owen Sound Sun Times
Norma Schmidt says at first she welcomed the idea of wind turbines being erected near her rural home in southern Bruce County. “I thought that this was good for the environment. I believed what the Liberal government told us,” she said in an interview. But shortly after the gigantic blades began to spin, in November 2008, Schmidt said she began tossing and turning at night and struggled to sleep. After months of sleepless nights, symptoms began to pile up — nausea, “horrendous” migraines, pressure in her ears and head, vertigo and general malaise.
“The symptoms became so pervasive over months that I couldn’t ignore them any longer,” she said.
“Eventually I became extremely ill and was diagnosed with having wind turbine syndrome.”
Acting on the advice of doctors and specialists, Schmidt said she and her husband Ron purchased a home in Miller Lake to get away from the 115-turbine Enbridge wind farm.
The decision to move was a difficult one, she said.
The couple has lived on their 13-acre property near Underwood for 32 years and raised three children there. It was the first home Schmidt owned after moving to Canada from Ireland.
“All my memories and life work is there. I can’t grow those 6,000 trees again. I can’t bring back the memories of my kids again. I can’t transplant those 32 years of my life into some other environment.”
On top of having to move, Schmidt said she became so ill while living among turbines that she is now unable to work as a registered nurse.
“My life is devastated because of it.”
The feisty 55-year-old has become a vocal opponent of the province’s Green Energy Act and has vowed to do whatever it takes to prevent the Liberal party from forming a government for a third consecutive time on Oct. 6.
On Wednesday, she staged an anti-wind protest in front of Huron-Bruce Liberal MPP Carol Mitchell’s constituency office, after a brief meeting with the provincial cabinet minister. Schmidt said the police were called on her.
Later in the day, Schmidt joined about 70 anti-turbine protesters outside Meaford Hall for a rally to coincide with a fundraiser for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Liberal candidate Kevin Eccles. Provincial Environment Minister John Wilkinson was expected to attend the event, but cancelled due to a scheduling conflict.
Schmidt was front and centre at the rally.
Using a megaphone, she led the crowd in chants like “Hey hey, ho ho, Dalton McGuinty’s got to go,” “Where’s John Wilkinson,” and “The winds of change are coming.”
She held a large white sign that read “What about our health?”
She said her goal is to put a human face on the suffering caused by industrial wind turbines. She is calling on the province to halt new wind farm projects until an independent epidemiological health study is completed.
The Liberal government says Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has conducted a review of existing scientific evidence on the possible health impacts of wind turbines and concluded “that while some people living near wind turbines report symptoms like dizziness, headaches and sleep disturbance, the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.
“The review also stated that the sound level from wind turbines at common residential setbacks is not sufficient to cause hearing impairment or other direct health effects.”
Schmidt said the Liberal government is “denying” the health impacts of turbines and “ignoring” the people who are suffering.
“People just aren’t going to sit back and take it anymore,” she said.
She told Eccles, after he refused to commit to supporting a moratorium on turbines, that his Liberal government will lose the election because of its stance on the wind issue.
“We’re going to have your government so low, so low, so low, you’re not going to get elected. It’s as simple as that,” she said.