Lambton County, Ontario
On Dec. 7, Lambton County Coun. Bev MacDougall accepted a donation of $50,000/year for four years, on behalf of the county, for Lambton’s Creative County Fund, from the Cedar Point wind project, which is jointly owned by Suncor and Nextera.
To put the total donation of $200,000 into perspective, Suncor/Nextera will receive approximately $700 million from the Ontario government, through our electricity bills, over the life of the wind project contract.
The media announcement came as a surprise to some county councillors, including Lonny Napper, whose municipality was sued by Suncor over bylaws intended to protect its residents.
The historical actions of the county council give context to this issue. Council passed motions to support a moratorium on turbines and to declare itself an unwilling host to turbines. Most importantly, county council became an opposing party in Nextera’s Jericho Wind Project Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT), and in the Suncor Cedar Point Wind Project ERT.
During the Jericho and Cedar Point ERT hearings, David Cribbs, Lambton County’s counsel, argued that the siting of the massive galvanized transmission pylons close to traveled roadways posed a health and safety risk to motorists. Those appeals were rejected by the tribunal.
The county’s media release contained a photo of MacDougall accepting the donation from Suncor representative Jody Hood, who was a witness for Suncor in the ERT hearing against the county. Would that not be considered hypocritical?
One of the stated aims of the Creative County Committee is to improve the quality of life in Lambton County. At every government-mandated public meeting held by Suncor since the Cedar Point project became operational, nearby residents have spoken out about their diminished quality of life because of nearby wind projects. We have also heard from affected individuals outside of the public meetings, including a family that has moved from their family farm because of the impacts of the turbines.
But the greatest detrimental impact this industrial project has had involves the irreparable damage to relationships between family members, and neighbours, in our community. This donation will cause even more divisiveness between the dedicated groups receiving the funds and those suffering because of the project.
We don’t oppose the county funding worthy causes locally. But we do take issue with the warden and the councillor accepting what had to be known as a controversial donation from the wind developers, on behalf of all county councillors and its citizens without their knowledge and without debate.
Warden Bill Weber states that the donation comes “with very few strings attached”. We disagree.
Lambton County now has the dubious distinction of voting itself as an unwilling host to turbines, while taking money from the wind developers through the back door. Accepting the cash could be viewed as tacit support for wind projects. It has damaged the credibility of the county’s “Not a Willing Host” resolution. It has undermined the work done by the county to protect its residents to date, and it will make it awkward for council to voice opposition to further wind projects already planned for Lambton by Suncor, Nextera and others.
These are more than a few strings with predictable outcomes that would not have been lost on Suncor or Nextera.
Audrey Broer, Bob Broer, Mary-Lynn Cooper, Elizabeth Bellavance, Ingrid Willemsen, Louyse Larochelle, Pam Ernst, Floyd Maidment, Lois McKay, Santo Giorno, Kristen Rodrigues, Doug Smith, Ed Vanderaa, Yvonne Vanderbeld, Bill Yates, Sue Wright, Joe Zanyk
Lambton County residents
Published January 10, 2017: http://www.theobserver.ca/2017/01/10/countys-acceptance-of-funding-awkward