Niagara turbines to be near 1,000-year-old historic trail
Ancient Trail Threatens Turbines
SMITHVILLE, ON – April 27, 2014
A local amateur historian may have stopped the imminent start-up of a Niagara wind farm by simply highlighting the importance of a thousand year old trail on the very doorstep of the turbines. And while largely
forgotten by locals and historians alike, Neil Switzer contends that this 35 km trail that stretches from the Grand River to the Forty (Grimsby) is a major legacy trail to both native and Canadian cultures alike which
upon further study should qualify as a cultural heritage landscape of major Provincial significance under the Ontario Heritage Act.
Unfortunately for the wind power developer Vineland Power Inc., their heritage assessment consultant missed this historically significant feature and making matters worse the Ministry of the Environment failed to forward Mr. Switzer’s comments back to the heritage consultant or the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport for appropriate review. The trail comments were formally submitted to the MOE’s Environmental Registry as part of the Green Energy Act’s public consultation process but that Act does not supersede the Ontario Heritage Act and all projects must have clearance from the MTCS before approvals are granted.
This convenient oversight previously allowed the MOE to expeditiously grant approval to the wind project but now, owing to property line setback violations of 4 of the 5 turbines, an amendment must be approved prior
to final project start-up. This time however Mr. Switzer is making sure the MOE cannot cover-up such an important heritage asset. And in order to ensure that the MOE follows due process this time he has submitted
a complaint to the Ombudsman’s office detailing how the MOE will effectively be in contravention of the of Ontario Heritage Act if it proceeds with the amendment prior to the completion of a full trail heritage
Mr. Switzer stated “the depth, richness and importance of Niagara’s native and pre-confederation history is unparalleled in Ontario and MOE’s disregard for this significant historic trail is a major insult to all Canadian
and First Nation’s people alike”.
Examples given of the cultural significance of this trail as submitted to the MOE included:
• One of only three major north/south Iroquoian/ Neutral Indian trails connecting the Grand River to
Lake Ontario with major archaeological resources along its 35 km route (i.e., Grimsby Neutral ossuary of 373 burials)
• Gateway trail influencing earliest settlement pattern of the United Empire Loyalist after the American Revolution including many officers and soldiers of the famous Butler’s Rangers and Indian Department
(i.e. Captain Robert Nelles, friend of the British and Chief Joseph Brant, homesteading land grants at both ends of the trail and frequented the trail so often that it became known as the Nelles Trail).
• Trail played major role in war of 1812 which not only transported local members of the 4th Lincoln Militia to battle but significantly it was the influx of Grand River native warriors arriving along this trail
to attack the retreating Americans after the Battle of Stoney Creek together with Sir James Yeo’s naval bombardment that sent the Yanks running back to Fort George. Without this native attack the Americans outnumbering the British 5 to 1 and with further reinforcements on
their way could easily have regrouped and overwhelmed the British at Burlington Heights and today we’d be under an American flag.
• Captain John Norton the famed native leader of the Grand River warriors lived at the southern terminus of this trail and regularly frequented this route on his way to battle or rendezvous with the British at the Forty.
• Chief Mesquacosy, an Ojibwa warrior who fought beside General Brock and Tecumseh in several battles had a son born in 1811 on the banks of the Forty Mile Creek named Maungwudaus who become one of North America’s most famous Indian in the 1840s and 50’s. Capitalizing on his native heritage he formed a troupe of native performers who toured the United States and Europe performing and lecturing before huge cheering audiences as well as having private audiences with the US President and French. Belgium and English royalty.
• Historically this trail symbolizes one of the best physical and literal representations of that formative nation building era when the ties between two of Canada’s three founding nations were strongest as
having been forged “as brothers in arms” during the American Revolutionary War and when natives and UEL settlers respected and depended on each other as equals.
Mr. Switzer admits this is a last ditch attempt to stall the turbine start-up until the upcoming Provincial election where if the PC’s win, Hudak has said he’ll cancel the costly $20 billion subsidy to wind and would hold wind developers accountable to comply with all setback requirements. Otherwise the future for anti-wind protesters appears extremely bleak so long as the Liberals remain in power and continue to approve hundreds more turbines every week in spite of electrical surpluses and spiraling energy costs.
While all Ontario homeowners, businessmen and industries are suffering from the highest electricity rates in North America due to the Liberal/NDP Green Energy Act, the real victims are the immediate neighbours.
Experience elsewhere has shown they stand to lose 20 to 40% of their property value as well as sleepless nights and the resultant health problems from turbine noise and low frequency infrasound.
One of the neighbours whose property will be directly impacted by an MOE amendment to legitimize the setback infractions stated in their comments to the MOE that she and her husband had fled their homeland in Yugoslavia 40 years ago in an attempt to escape a communist government who always put their own interests above the people and the community. Unfortunately, the way this issue has been handled by the
MOE has made them question whether life in Canada is really much different from our previous life under a communist regime halfway around the world.
Not so says Neil: “We may have strayed from our Canadian roots of “peace, fairness and good government” but it’s not too late to set things right and a little history lesson might be a good place to start.
Neil Switzer Chair, WLGWAG