Published on March 7, 2013 in the Whig Standard.
KINGSTON - If Amherst Island residents opposed to a planned wind project resort to trying to slow down construction by obstruction, their provincial representative says he will be there to support them.
“(Non-violent) civil disobedience is an acceptable means in the right situations,” said Randy Hillier, MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington.
“Should those situations arise, absolutely I’ll be there.”
Hillier was among those who attended a public meeting held Wednesday evening in Bath that was hosted by representatives of Windlectric Inc., a company formed by Algonquin Power Co. of Oakville and Gaia Power of Kingston.
The developer has been granted a contract by the government, but the project — which would see 36 wind turbines erected on the island just west of Kingston — has yet to be approved.
“I had a number of discussions with the project team at the meeting (Wednesday),” Hillier said over the telephone from his constituency office. “I told them of my opposition to it, so that they’re clear that I stand with the community on this.”
Hillier said he didn’t mince words with company representatives, and he believes they were surprised about how adamantly he opposed the project.
“I think the phrase that I used was that the Liberal government and themselves should take their wind turbines and put them where the sun doesn’t shine and the wind always blows,” he recalled.
Island residents opposed to the turbines being built have said they may form a citizens coalition that would physically block or slow construction crews if all other avenues of opposition are exhausted.
Those same residents believe that the hamlet of Stella, where the ferry from the mainland docks, will be ruined by construction crews constantly driving through it with the large turbine blades and the like.
Hillier takes issue with the current government’s Green Energy Act, which, he feels, “essentially castrated the community and individual involvement with respect to wind and solar projects in communities.”
He believes that the act is being “disrespectul” of people.
“This is the only area of law that we have in this province where we have categorically stated in the law that the community has no say and no involvement in the decision-making process. We would not accept that in local zoning, we would not accept it for the placement of a school or a landfill. We do not accept it under any other set of conditions,” Hillier stated.
“So this law subverts and circumvents the tentative democracy of people being engaged. So, when people are faced with an unjust law, then acts of civil disobedience (are) another long-held and established method of communicating their concerns.”
He considers wind-generated power to be inefficient and potentially hazardous to the health of wildlife and people.
“No company would build these things without these exorbitant rates that they pay, which, of course, (taxpayers) have to pay for,” he said.
Allowing a turbine to be erected on one’s property isn’t neighbourly, Hillier feels.
“Although there will be a few people on the island who will gain a substantial financial benefit from the turbines,” he said, “everybody else will pay the cost.”