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LITTLE CURRENT—Last week the newly formed Community Liaison Committee (CLC) for the Northland Power (NPI) McLean’s Mountain Wind Farm Project held its first meeting, outlining objectives, the project history to date, the construction schedule and addressing the controversy of several original members of the CLC stepping down after declining to sign a code of conduct.
At the beginning of the meeting Nancy Coldham, the meeting facilitator, explained that some of the original members of the CLC withdrew after reviewing then declining to sign the code of conduct.
“The self declared anti-wind individuals were some of the first to respond for the call for CLC members,” said Ms. Coldham. “We took that as a good sign and an opportunity to correct misinformation, but it was stated clearly by those individuals that they did not wish to sign the code of conduct. We kept their seats open as long as possible, we wanted to hear all views, but eventually we had to fill the vacant seats. The code of conduct wasn’t designed as a muzzle, but to ensure constructive dialogue.”
The Expositor spoke with two of the individuals who withdrew from the CLC due to not wishing to sign the code of conduct.
Ken Ferguson, president of the Manitoulin Tourism Association and active Green Bay community member, explained that he chose not to sign the code of conduct and withdraw from the CLC because, “I felt I wouldn’t be free to report back to the various groups I represent.”
“I just didn’t feel confortable signing it,” continued Mr. Ferguson, “so I chose not to.”
Ray Beaudry, spokesperson for the Manitoulin Coalition for Safe Energy Alternatives (MCSEA), also told The Expositor that he didn’t feel comfortable signing the code of conduct.
“There was no guidance on who was going to do press releases or speak on behalf of the committee,” said Mr. Beaudry. “I also felt that the committee was heavily weighted with people ‘for’ the project. The CLC is just a requirement of the project with the Ministry of Environment, it does nothing to address the real concerns such as health effects or setbacks.”
“Our (MCSEA) involvement in the CLC wasn’t going to turn things around or stop the project,” added Mr. Beaudry. “We wanted to get involved because we actually thought we would have a say, but we wouldn’t. The code of conduct doesn’t look like much, but signing it would be saying that I agree with the process and I don’t.”
The code of conduct was outlined and reviewed again with the committee and members of the public present at the meeting. It stated things such as members will arrive on time to meetings, contribute positively to discussion, be polite and respectful to fellow members, never raise your voice, do not insult or abuse or use offensive language, show respect for the buildings and facilities, avoid interrupting the meeting or comments of fellow members and be willing to be recorded and have comments made public.
Following the discussion of the code of conduct, members the CLC introduced themselves to the room and explained why they had applied to be a part of the committee.
Members included Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin who explained that he had applied on behalf of the town to address community members’ questions and any concerns that arise from council and Northeast Town Councillor Bruce Wood, who explained he is a landowner involved in the project, as well a councillor.
Another member was Connie Ferguson of Sheguiandah who said she felt it was a good idea to sit on the committee because she was a landowner and had been receiving a lot of questions from community members and wanted to be fully informed in order to answer questions correctly.
Delroy Prescott stated that he was from Honora Bay, which sits in the middle of the project, and said that although he was in favour of green energy, he wanted to sit on the CLC to ensure environmental elements were being properly taken care of throughout the project.
Donald McGraw explained that he was from Audeck Omni Kaning and that he wanted to understand more about renewable energy and ensure the wind project was transparent.
Phreddie Shore expressed that she was a local business owner and wanted to be on top of project news to accurately inform her clients of the project’s updates.
Other CLC members included Brad Wilkin, Dale Wood, Melanie Sadie Debassige, Tony Ferro, Valerie McIntyre, United Chiefs and Councils of M’Nidoo Mnising (UCCMM) land and resources manager Art Jacko (representing Mnidoo Mnising Power General Partnership Inc., NPI’s partner in the McLean’s Mountain Wind Farm project) and Rick Martin, the project manager.
The overall meeting went well, with the purpose and objectives of the CLC outlined, the project history discussed, an overview of the project presented, key project timelines explained, a project update being given and three CLC member issues being addressed.
See next week’s Expositor for further coverage of the CLC meeting.