OUR OPINION: Bending with the wind
The e-mail we saw on Tuesday afternoon, just hours before a public meeting on wpd’s wind turbine project in Manvers, made us nervous. The writer suggested G20-like tactics to cause maximum disruption to the meeting, justifying it by saying her ancestors would be proud she was standing up for her rights.
Thankfully, the residents who attended the Tuesday evening session acted like adults and didn’t resort to throwing themselves on the ground in protest. They were likely tempted as the wind projects in the area seem to keep coming up despite their clear message that they don’t want them near their homes.
The cycle seems to have been the same for the past three years: a company proposes a project, the residents object by citing health and property-value concerns and the company responds with answers that don’t fulfill those concerns.
At the local level, this all makes sense. People are defending their right to speak up against this major change in the landscape. We get it.
In the bigger scheme of things, this is not new. Communities in other parts of Ontario and the world have been through the same discussions and have seen wind turbines erected. The ruling Liberals are keen to embrace wind as a power source so Ontarians use less energy from coal-fired plants as we consume vast amounts of power, especially during heat waves like this week’s and our frigid winters.
So what can we learn to break the cycle of the same questions and the same answers, with no one walking away satisfied?
The answer is to compromise.
The Province is not wavering from its stance that we need wind power as part of our future. You can argue all day about how efficient it is or whether it causes health problems; unless you have another way to run our appliances, you’re saying the same things others have said before. Saying ‘no’ is like throwing yourself on the floor in a tantrum with a virtual guarantee that you won’t get your way.
If the wind opponents are truly worried about sound and shadow affecting people’s health, then focus on setbacks. If you’re concerned about the effect on birds and bats, talk about blade design or period of rest during migration.
There are a dozen other constructive conversations we can have about turbines and how their presence would affect life in Manvers. But both sides need to listen.
Residents who have turned up to meeting after meeting feel like they are not being heard. That must be incredibly frustrating. But to listen and learn, then amend your question would take you far further ahead in reaching a compromise you can live with.