Premier greets Not A Willing Host demonstrators in Stratford
Here is a report of the peaceable demonstration before an appearance in Stratford yesterday by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. Note the hints about the new process: “community buy-in.”
Wynne meets briefly with wind turbine opponents during Stratford stop
Local pixels, local products and a local protest were all on Kathleen Wynne’s agenda Friday during a stop in Stratford.
The Ontario premier toured the University of Waterloo Stratford campus and Monforte Dairy before attending a fundraising dinner hosted by provincial Liberal candidate Stewart Skinner and the Perth-Wellington Liberal Riding Association.
As she arrived for the meal at the Army Navy and Air Force Veterans hall, Wynne was greeted by about a dozen wind turbine protesters carrying “Not a Willing Host” signs.
“We just want the premier to know that there are 73 municipalities and community groups that have declared themselves not willing hosts,” said Listowel-area dairy farmer Tim Martin, as he stood with the group waving signs to passing motorists on Lorne Ave.
Despite claiming to have changed the process behind siting wind turbines, Wynne’s Liberals are still essentially ignoring municipalities — like North Perth — who don’t want them within their boundaries, suggested Martin.
“So that’s why we’re here. We’re just hoping to get the premier’s attention,” he said.
They did that.
After arriving at the hall, Wynne stepped out of her vehicle and walked over to greet the protesters.
She acknowledged that there are “strong feelings” about wind turbine projects in Ontario.
“There’s strong feeling on both sides,” she told the crowd huddled around her by the roadside. “We are putting a new process in place. If we could roll back time and have a better process up front I would do that. We can’t do that, but we’re very aware that having community planning and community buy-in is the way that we need to go.”
After those brief comments, Wynne met privately with Martin and another representative to hear their concerns in more detail.
“It was a polite conversation,” said Martin afterward. “She listened, but I didn’t get the impression that there was going to be any action taken.”
Martin said protesters were specifically looking for a moratorium on new wind turbine projects until the potential health effects can be studied more thoroughly.
Larger setbacks from farming operations — 2,500 metres instead of the current 550 — would also go a long way toward alleviating some concerns, he said.
“The reset button needs to be pushed on this,” he said of the Green Energy Act in general.
While Wynne made him no promises, Martin said he was pleased that she at least agreed to speak with representatives from the group Friday.
“But actions speak louder than words,” he said.
While the protest was peaceful and polite, Wynne received a much warmer welcome earlier in the day as University of Waterloo officials gave her a guided tour of the Stratford campus.