John Miner, London Free Press
First, they found out they’re getting giant wind turbines even though they didn’t want them. Now, residents of a Southwestern Ontario township are learning the support of six Ontario First Nations communities — more than 1,000 kilometres away, some not even in the same time zone — helped give a Chicago-based energy giant an edge in its winning bid to build the unwanted wind farm.
One of the native communities is along Hudson Bay, the others in the province’s northwest near the Manitoba border.
It’s another sign that for all the changes Ontario has made to ensure the controversial projects aren’t imposed on areas that don’t want them, as they have been in parts of Southwestern Ontario, problems — and surprises — persist. “It’s ludicrous for them to do something like that,” said Jamie Littlejohn, a spokesperson for Dutton/Dunwich Opponents of Wind Turbines. Littlejohn heads a citizens’ group opposed to the project in Dutton-Dunwich Township, southwest of London.
Progressive Conservative MPP Jeff Yurek said he was “shocked” that communities so far away could influence an energy project in his riding, and he wants the ruling Liberals to shelve the wind farm. “I don’t think it’s fair to residents of the municipality — it’s a huge loophole the government needs to close,” said the Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP. Residents in Dutton-Dunwich, in rural Elgin County, are vehemently opposed to Invenergy LLC’s project.
Under Ontario’s new bidding system for wind-energy contracts, participation by a First Nation gives companies an extra edge. Invenergy, which won one of the coveted contracts for its proposed Strong Breeze Wind Farm in Dutton-Dunwich, found its First Nation support — and investment — in Ontario’s northernmost community and remote reserves near the Manitoba boundary. One of the First Nations communities participating in the project, McDowell Lake, has only 59 members. Read article