People lined up outside the door at the Clubhouse at Baldoon on Tuesday night in Wallaceburg for an open house about the Otter Creek Wind Farm project.
While many people were expecting more of a sit down presentation, representatives from Boralex were on hand to field questions from the public as they walked through viewing a series of information panels stationed around the banquet room.
The overall mood of the 150-plus people in attendance was calm and relaxed, however the displeasure was evident from many people coming through the doors.
A handful of people discussed launching a petition in opposition of the new wind project, while a number of others felt like the project was being “forced down our throats.”
Some individuals were concerned about the negative effect on property values in the Wallaceburg area and others felt the project will only benefit a handful of farmers in the area.
Others expressed concerns about how the project would effect some preserved and natural habitats in the area as well.
Renewable Energy Systems Canada Inc. and Boralex Inc., acting on behalf of Otter Creek Wind Farm Limited Partnership, are proposing to develop the project with a maximum capacity of up to 60 megawatts.
Patrica Lemaire, director of public affairs and communications for Boralex, said the proposed project would result in less than 20 turbines.
“It is very important to Boralex to get in touch with the population to present the project and to get their impression on the project,” Lemaire said.
“It is very important to do it as soon as we can, so we decided to hold one before we submit the project next week.”
The project is to be located all within Chatham-Kent, just north of Wallaceburg, generally bounded by Stewart Line and McCreary Line to the south, Whitebread Line and Kent Line west of Mandaumin Road to the north, Mandaumin Road to the east, and Payne Road to the west.
The project will be proposed to the Independent Electricity System Operator of Ontario by September 1.
Lemaire said the project has been in the works for a few months.
“We are submitting the project next week and then we think we will know which project has been awarded a contract by the end of the year,” she said. “If we are lucky enough we will go through the REA process and then go to constructing in 2018 or 2019.”
Without giving any exact numbers or details, Lemaire they have already approached some landowners.
“The responses have been positive,” she said.
Lemaire said there was roughly 150 people in attendance at the Tuesday meeting.
“That is what we were expecting,” she said. “We sent letters to all the landowners inside the project zone and also 500 meters around the project zone.”
Lemaire said if the project is awarded the contract, there will be more public meetings.
“That is for sure. Under the REA process there will be and we will hold more than what is required.”
We’ve also spoken with Adam Rosso, the director of project development in Ontario for Boralex, along with Chatham-Kent councillors Joe Faas and Carmen McGregor.
Watch for more on this story.