THUNDER BAY – “I won’t duck and cover.” That was the message from Current River Councillor Andew Foulds on Tuesday night as he spoke against a motion from Councillor Frank Pullia to defer a decision on the Horizon Wind Inc. lease agreement.
Foulds said that because he supports “green energy” he will support this project as “part of the package”. Foulds was determined that the timeline set by Council had to be followed.
The problem for Council last night is that once again it is looking like decisions were made without all the facts being on the table to allow for the best possible decision making.
One of the telling moments at last night’s special Council Meeting was when the City Solicitor could not say if the city’s income on this project is based on net or gross profit. Councillor Pullia was trying to get that information, but the Committee of a Whole Chair Mark Bentz appeared at times less willing to allow Pullia the flexibility to get answers.
One might have thought Foulds, along with the other Councillors who voted in favour of this project, would want to know that important piece of information.
Thunder Bay will receive between $200,000 and $275,000 annually from Horizon Wind Inc. in lease payments.
In other words for about $2.75 per resident annually, Councillors Foulds, McKinnon, Giertuga, Tuchenhagen, Johnson and Angus along with Mayor Peterson have voted to permanently scar the Nor’Westers.
Imagine your tax bill can drop by $2.75 annually as a result of this decision.
“Mountains are sacred places”, to quote Chief John Snow, a long time Stoney Chief from Alberta. I have always had a special place in my heart for mountains, I have climbed many, and have lost friends in climbing accidents.
To watch in today’s world where environmentalists and others talk about taking nothing but pictures, and making sure even our footprints left behind are small, the idea of leaving permanent scars atop the Nor’Westers is one I simply cannot, and will not ever understand.
There are certainly other places that those wind turbines could go.
What was also surprising is that Councillor Angus, who also voted for the Horizon deal, didn’t seem to care about the income the city will receive. It was more of a “damn the facts, full speed ahead” approach to get the issue behind them.
Angus also appears to have forgotten the NOMA fight for a Northwestern Ontario power rate of “$45 all in”. Of course so too has Mayor Peterson who fought for that rate to save the forestry sector.
Angus appeared to figure that rather than a civic issue, it should be solely a provincial issue with the suggestion that lobbying the province might stop the project.
Councillors voting for this project have given away the power they had to command a stronger seat at the bargaining table, and now hope that someone else takes the blame.
Citizens who were appearing before Council raised important points that caused Councillor Aldo Ruberto to thank the groups for helping to educate them on the scope of the issues. Ruberto stated that when this deal first came to Council in 2006 none of the potential problems were raised.
One issue completely ignored by Councillors at last night’s meeting were comments that liability insurance issues may cause problems for Loch Lomond Ski Area. There are three insurance companies which offer liability coverage for ski resorts, all three according to what Council was told are not willing to insure the ski resort if the wind turbines are located where they will be placed.
That issue didn’t seem to matter to Councillors in moving the vote forward.
What appears certain from last night will be that voters in Neebing now have more incentive than ever to get out to the polls and vote. There is an old political adage that says people never vote a new government in, they vote out the old one.
One thing is certain; chances are the Councillors-at-Large who supported the Wind Farm in Neebing are going to be able to count their votes in that ward in one heck of a hurry.
Likely one day, long after some of these Councillors who voted for the Wind Turbines atop the Nor’Westers have left political life, they might realize that their political and personal legacy will be three hundred foot tall monuments to thoughtless decision making.