Before giving you a bit of background about Don and I, let me just state categorically, that we are fully in favour of renewable energy. The idea of individual home owners having their own wind turbine and solar panels to get them somewhat self-reliant and off the grid is a great idea and something we should be striving for. However, giant 400 to 600 foot tall industrial machines being built and forced upon people is undemocratic and a violation of their rights to health, peace and quality of life.
Donna Quixote — Having grown up in the country (Waterloo Region, Ontario) in the 1960’s, I come from a long long line of farmers on both sides of the family.
My ancestors emigrated here from Germany in the early 1800’s. My great-great-great-great-grandfather, Mathias Fehrenbach, was one of the original settlers in Waterloo County. He came to Southern Ontario with only his dog, a sack of potatoes, his gun and an axe. He worked for the Mennonite Land Tract Company for several years and in exchange was given hundreds of acres of property, stretching from Marden through Maryhill all the way to Bloomingdale, Ontario. My mother was actually the one who named Maryhill, during the Second World War, when the school children were asked to rename the little village of New Germany, as part of a contest.
My father came to Canada at the age of 6. His family originally settled in the area of Edson, Alberta where they built a soddy to live in for the first few years. Eventually, they moved to Ontario and established a farm just outside of Kitchener. Their quarter-mile long lane was fenced on one side with beautiful green and dark blue grapes which were harvested each year to make wine.
So from the start, my roots and passion for this province and country life in general, runs deeply.
In the Spring, as a little girl, I would lay in the ditch that ran along the side of the dirt road and study for hours on end the tiniest of creatures scurrying around in the runoff water from the melting snow, until summertime when the water had dried up. Even though the road was out of sight from the house, my mother never worried about my safety. She knew I’d eventually wander home. My father would take us on walks in the bush surrounding our farm and teach us the names of the wildflowers — jack-in-the-pulpit, lady slippers, trilliums — that grew abundantly under the canopy of sugar maple, spruce and cedar branches.
With luck in May, each year, we’d find and pick morels as we strolled down the centuries-old overgrown lane that ran through the woods behind our house. Later in the year, we’d make the same trek in search of puffballs, one of my fathers favourites.
Summer fun meant splashing in the icy waters of the spring-fed miniature lake that our father had made to raise rainbow trout. Or laying on our backs in the shallow creek that ran through our property, letting the cold waters cascade over our shoulders. Most autumn mornings, while eating breakfast, we would gaze out the window and through the hovering cool mist, just be able to make out the shapes of deer grazing in the recently harvested corn fields.
While I’m sure the beginnings of being a conservationist were taught to me by my father (who never threw anything out — himself, the product of the Great Depression), the first time I really understood pollution and the destruction that could be wrought by industrial negligence was when I did a Grade 6 project on water pollution. Since that time, while I’m not a tree-hugging fanatic, I have practiced conservation as much as possible.
I’ve taught those same values to my children. We all understand the importance of turning off lights when not needed, of lowering the thermostat and putting on a sweater to keep warm in the winter and of making do with what you have, rather than going out each year to buy the latest and greatest new model of something.
Don Quixote — Having grown up in Rexdale in the 60’s , I was fortunate to also have a family cottage to go to in the summer. I had the best of both worlds.
In Rexdale , I was allowed to run free through the neighborhood and also have access to a tributary to the Humber river to explore. Nature made itself available to me there in what was an urban environment. Ecosystems developed despite our prejudices as what should be there.
The same was true at our cottage. On an island 3 miles from the mainland, natural areas were able to co-exist with farms and cottages alike. The conclusion I drew from these experiences was that it required much more effort to maintain our corner of the world than to try and maintain what nature wanted to develop and create on her own.
All you have to do is let nature be. She adapts far more easily than we give her credit for. The idea that we can know what’s best for her is laughable.
This notion was cemented for me while taking forestry at Lakehead University. Emphasizing field work showed me the variations of climate, micro-climates and their variabilities even within a whole climatic region. The requirements for certain ecosystems and how the slightest variables could make such a difference. How fire played such an important role as nature’s reset button (and other natural disasters) and how ecosystems evolve after such events.
Nature doesn’t disciminate as to what’s a good or bad event, it just reacts as it has for millenia.
Donna Quixote — Our passionate love of camping, canoeing, nature and the wilderness runs deep. It was because of this, that the idea of green, renewable energy appealed to both of us when we first heard about it. In particular, the concept of wind power seemed ideal.
We were under this delusion for a long time, mostly because we lived in the south of Southern Ontario and never really knew much about industrial wind turbines. Harmless little windmills turning in the breeze providing clean, free energy for the province — what could be more perfect in every way?
Our illusions of a Eutopian Ontario powered by wind energy was shattered when we moved north to the shores of Lake Huron in 2011. Abruptly, we were brought face-to-face with the drama that had been unfolding just a few hours away from us. We had no idea. It seemed everywhere we turned, there was another anti-wind turbine sign. “STOP WIND TURBINES!!”
“Wind turbines are a problem? ??? What?”, was our initial response. How could that be. They’re green. They’re clean. They’re renewable energy. What could possibly be bad about that?
“Surely these were just the over-reactions on the part of some people,” we thought as we inwardly rolled our eyes.
However, never being the type to back away from the chance to learn and educate ourselves on a topic that we didn’t know too much about, we dove into the internet with a relish, anxious to learn as much about these seemingly innocuous wind turbines as possible. We read everything we could get our hands on, from both the pro-wind and the anti-wind sides.
But as we went along, reading victim impact statements, watching their stories on video, listening to how rural Ontarians have been driven from their homes, we realized that there was something terribly wrong.
Why wasn’t this being reported in the mainstream media? We hear all the time about someone who has issues with power lines being too close to homes, or about the occupiers in Toronto, or about the latest case before the Human Rights Commission.
Here are hundreds of people living in this province who are being treated as lunatics, nimbys, hypochondriacs and second class citizens. Families forced to flee their homes as if we were living in war-torn Afghanistan and there’s nary a peep about it on the news. And to top it off, the provincial Liberal government has stripped rural citizens of all rights or say regarding where these giant 400 to 600 foot machines can be placed.
If they’re building these industrial turbines right next door and destroying your quality of life, your health and that of your family, your peace of mind and your property values — too bad. Suck it up. Thanks to our provincial dictator Dalton McGuinty — you have no say, you have no rights, you are nothing in his eyes and those of his caucus.
Wow! These sorts of things happen in communist countries or under dictatorships. Not in a democratic society like Canada. This didn’t sit very well with two products of the 1960’s. Didn’t sit too well with us at all.
The more we read; the more we heard; the more we delved into the issue; the more we decided that while we are in favour of green, renewable energy — industrial wind turbines are anything but. We joined a small local anti-turbine group, to learn more, and soon met people whose lives have been permanently disrupted due to living next to industrial wind installations. We quickly came to understand that just because international mega-corporations (making billions of dollars at our expense) label something as ‘green’, does not necessarily make it so.
We tried discussing the situation with friends who live in the GTA and soon heard a word that we would face over and over again. The dreaded “nimby”. Turns out, those who live in the southern part of Southern Ontario, who have no real life experience with 600 foot tall industrial wind turbines LOVE to use that word to dismiss the concerns of people who are directly affected and have to deal with wind turbines day in and day out, 365 days a year. The callous over-use of that hideous word demonstrated to us just how hypocritical and uncaring urbanites can be towards their provincial rural neighbours. We may all feel that we are Ontarians — Canadians living in a compassionate society — but a caste-system has definitely developed when it comes to wind turbines.
We also realized that while there are hundreds if not thousands of anti-wind sites and blogs on the internet, many of them are localized or deal only with the situation in their country.
We wanted to have a site that would bring together, for easy reference, wind turbine news from all over the world. We wanted to make it simple for someone who is a neophyte on wind turbines (as we were just a short year ago) to find the answers to any questions they may have on the subject. And not answers provided by for-profit wind companies or wind energy consultants or anyone else who has a financial stake in the game, but unbiased data and information provided by people who don’t have their snouts firmly planted in the FIT subsidy trough.
We wanted the people of Ontario to know that they’re not alone in their struggle, as is often thrown at them in debates with wind proponents. “Ontarians are the only ones who complain! Europe has had industrial wind turbines for years and everyone loves them over there.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just that — as in the case of people in Ontario suffering — the media never broadcasts the problems associated with wind turbines overseas. It’s a dirty little secret that governments, wind companies and the media struggle to keep a lid on.
And, we wanted Canadians living in the other provinces to hear the cries of injustice and suffering that so many Ontarians are experiencing. To warn them, before their Premiers and governments take too quick and large a leap into the unrealistic feel-good fantasy of wind energy, that due diligence and prudence is the best way to proceed.
So, while we consider ourselves to be conservationists, we realize that industrial wind turbines cause far more damage to this planet than we’ve been told and they are anything but ‘green’, or ‘clean’. It is our mission, along with hundreds of thousands of others around this planet, to stop the assault on much-needed farmland and fragile ecosystems by greedy politicians and wind companies.
Don Quixote (the final word) — This brings me to the supposition that we can do something with nature by erecting windmills. It’s an ill-informed reaction to a problem that for the most part doesn’t exist.
It’s rife with unintended consequences both natural and human. It’s a grotesque diversion of resources that only retards meaningful research into alternative energy sources that would fulfil our mutual desires for clean, reliable energy.
Lori and Paul