By Jim Merriam, London Free Press
It won’t be the legendary gunfight at the O.K. Corral but next week’s meeting between Premier Dalton McGuinty and rural municipal leaders is shaping up to be a major confrontation. The issue involves shunning Premier Dad at the Good Roads convention in Toronto. One organizing group is urging delegates by letter to greet the premier with respect.
However, the Multi-Municipal Working Group on Wind Turbines isn’t backing down on plans to walk out on McGuinty’s speech if a one-year moratorium on installation of wind turbines isn’t announced before the meeting.
The Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA), which sponsors “Good Roads” in partnership with the Ontario Good Roads Association, suggests such a walkout would be shortsighted.
“We invited the premier to our conference, we appreciate his decision to come, and we will respectfully listen to what he has to say,” says the ROMA letter, hoping for the final word on the subject.
The working group’s chair will have none of it. In his written response, Mark Davis, deputy mayor of Arran Elderslie said, “There are times you must stand up and be counted. You must do things that you believe are right for the people you represent. I firmly believe this is one of those times.” ROMA’s letter looks back at its successful history to discourage a walkout by the folks concerned about the way wind power has been forced down the throats of rural residents.
“As a group, Ontario municipalities have worked very hard over many years to build a relationship with the Government of Ontario that is based on open doors and frank discussion. The mature and respectful relationship that makes these exchanges possible provides us with our greatest opportunity to achieve meaningful progress.” But members of the six-county wind turbine working group are more interested in what ROMA has done for them lately?
“ROMA must be aware of the depth of these (wind turbine) concerns and we hope to hear at the conference the steps that ROMA, like the other organizations representing rural Ontario, has taken to represent concerns of its members on this issue.” ROMA goes on to list the issues it is discussing with the province including the global recession, economic development, funding for roads and bridges, the costs of emergency services and the Drummond report.
In response the anti-turbine group has a list of its own, pointing out those who have serious doubts about the “green energy program and wind turbines.” This includes the Ontario Auditor General who said the turbines are not replacing coal-fired plants nor cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
“They (turbines) require additional fossil-fuel gas generation back-up because their production is unpredictable, intermittent and cannot be stored.” This means consumers pay twice for wind energy, adding skyrocketing electricity costs that are a real threat to jobs.
Also joining the anti-turbine movement is the Ontario Federation of Agriculture that represents 38,000 farm families.
In addition 79 municipalities have called for a moratorium on wind turbine installations.
The working group also points out that the province responded within hours to a light rail transit motion by Toronto council, but there has been no meaningful response to rural concerns about wind turbines.
In summing up the fighting words ROMA attempts to speak for all Ontarians: “Ontario residents are counting on us to work co-operatively and productively.” The conclusion from the working group is quite different: “There are many reasons to walk and very few not to.”