Pembina Institute boycotted in Chatham
Ed. Note: There was a general boycott of the Chatham Pembina Institute meeting, as the London venue on the previous night was not allowing those who were present to speak. If they did, security and police were called in to remove them. How’s that for freedom of speech??
Albertan co-exists with industrial wind farm
By Blair Andrews, Chatham Daily News
Emotions remained calm as 20 people turned out for a wind turbine meeting in Chatham Wednesday night. Despite the low attendance, the event still produced some thoughtful exchanges on the controversial renewable energy source.
The meeting, held at the Sunset Lounge (the former CAW Hall), was organized by the Pembina Institute of Alberta. It was the third of three meetings held this week, following sessions in Grand Bend and London.
During the meeting Heidi Eijgel, a rancher from Pincher Creek, Alta., shared her experience of living next to Canada’s first commercial wind farm for more than a decade.
Heidi and her husband Dave raise horses on a ranch near approximately 60 wind turbines (the closest is about 700 metres).
Eijgel told the meeting they don’t own any wind turbines and she was speaking in favour of the development as a volunteer.
Noting that 2003 was interesting year for the couple, she said wind companies as well as oil and gas companies that were planning developments in their area approached them.
The latter group was seeking to build a sour gas well.
“It was a really challenging time for me and my husband because we had found our dream farm, and I don’t know if I could have lived there with a sour gas well in our backyard,” said Eijgel.
She added she felt she was being bullied and “lied to” over the development.
The relationship with the wind company, she said, was completely opposite.
“We had a good rapport and they answered our questions,” said Eijgel.
As for living near the turbines, Eijgel doesn’t find them bothersome.
“To me it sounds like a train off in the distance,” she noted.
She also said the turbines also don’t bother her horses or other livestock on the other farms in the area.
On potential wild life damage, she noted the company took steps to mitigate the turbines’ impact on bats.
The measures were implemented following a study of a rise in deaths of bats in the area.
Pembina officials said the purpose of the meeting was to have a conversation and start a dialogue rather than seek a consensus.
And the meeting delivered in the regard.
Nikki Horton gave a different perspective of living near turbines.
The Dealtown resident said she has a lot in common with Eijgel, noting that she and her husband our living in their dream home and she supports the concept of green energy.
But for Horton that is where the similarities ended.
“Unfortunately, for the people in this area, there are far less stories than yours,” said Horton.
“In a way you give me hope that wind turbines can function in certain areas at certain distances but then, at the same time, I think you’re lucky right now. Tomorrow you could wake up and there could be another 1,000 (turbines).”
Horton, reading from prepared notes wondered if Eijgel would feel the same about turbines if they were so close that the house “literally shook” and things would vibrate off the shelves.
She then listed a number of health concerns including headaches, nausea, heart palpitations, trouble sleeping and rashes.
“It’s been four years for me and I just hope something I said might resonate to the fact that more homework needs to be going on,” said Horton.