A fundraising BBQ was held by the Bon Echo Area Residents Against Turbines (BEARAT) at the Clar-Mill Hall in Plevna on Sept. 4. The event, which was attended by over 100 people and featured live music from the Pickled Chicken String Band and Roger Hermer, was organized to generate more interest and to raise money for BEARAT's expected upcoming battle against wind turbines being built in the North Frontenac and Addington Highlands areas.
Last year BEARAT was very active in fighting against two companies, Nextera and ResCanada, which had proposed building large wind turbine farms in both North Frontenac and Addington Highlands. The contracts eventually were awarded to projects elsewhere in the province, but they caused great debate and discussion in the area, drawing hundreds of people out to local council meetings, including the Ontario Provincial Police, who were brought in to keep the peace.
North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins, John Laforet from Broadview Strategy Group, and Dan Carruthers, a cottager from Ashby Lake, spoke to the attendees on Sunday about the current situation and fielded questions from the crowd.
“What we're doing right now is amping up our game,” Laforet said. “Individual actions are going to be extremely important as we begin to see what the timelines and benchmarks actually are for the IESO.”
The IESO is the Independent Electricity Systems Operators, an organization that oversees the supply and demand of the province's electricity and are responsible for choosing which companies receive contracts to build turbines in Ontario.
“We're basing this year's target funding on what we spent last year, which was $75,000,” Carruthers said. “We have about $30,000 raised (so far this year).”
Mayor Higgins and North Frontenac's Council, in a vote last year, declared their township “not a willing host” to industrial wind turbine projects and have since had it included in their Official Plan.
Addington Highlands voted last year to be a “willing host” to the proposed projects and so, during Sunday's BEARAT fundraiser, multiple people in the crowd were curious as to what could be done to sway that Council to vote against the projects this time around.
“Once we have a sense of what the ground looks like in Addington Highlands, who we're up against, where they're going, then there is a list of concepts that we're going to put forth,” Laforet said. “There is a real, or apparent, potential conflict of interest that would, or could, result in ties. Ties are interesting and helpful to us.”
Laforet also explained that they would offer “opportunities to oppose the project, in addition to opportunities to continue their support for the project, but in a way that is going to really upset the proponent and if they don't do it they look really bad to their constituents.”
“The plan is to wait until it's real, then put opportunities in front of them to oppose the project based on the community's sentiment, based on other real concerns about what could happen, and then (to offer them) other opportunities to be world class in protecting members of the community while supporting the project going forward,” Laforet continued.
One of BEARAT's tactics right now is to have landowners sign non-consent forms if they feel that their property could be impacted by a possible turbine in the future. The forms and more information are available on the BEARAT website at www.bearat.org.
(Editors note - a previous version of this article said, erroneously, that John Laforet is associated with Wind Concerns Ontario. In an email to the News Laforet said that he was the President of Wind Concerns Ontario over fiove years ago, but is now a private consultant.)