Wind energy industry calls for respectful dialogue after Ontario worker reportedly threatened with death
The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) is issuing a call for a respectful and fact-based dialogue on wind energy after a construction worker on a wind energy project was reportedly threatened with death in West Grey, Ontario, on July 26, by a man armed with a shotgun. There is an active police investigation into the incident.
Wind energy has been a topic of considerable discussion in the media, in many communities with proposed projects, and among provincial political parties as Ontario phases out coal power and replaces it with clean energy sources. The wind energy industry welcomes this discussion and has consistently promoted an open and genuine dialogue with stakeholders that seeks to ensure questions about wind energy developments are heard, understood and answered. In supporting its mission of responsible and sustainable wind energy development, CanWEA has developed, promotes, and provides training with respect to Best Practices for Community Engagement and Public Consultation which were informed by the experience of dozens of municipal leaders across Ontario.
In some communities, wind energy project developers, supporters and workers have had to deal with aggressive tactics of organized wind energy opponents, including the hijacking of public meetings, verbal abuse of pro-wind individuals, and physical destruction of property. This most recent incident, however, represents a significant escalation in aggression towards individuals engaged in the wind energy industry.
“We fundamentally recognize the right of citizens to express their views, whether they support wind energy or not, and to be dealt with respectfully. In return, we cannot and should not expect individuals supportive of wind energy or associated with the wind energy industry to face threats on their life or to endure other aggressive or criminal behaviour,” said Robert Hornung, President of CanWEA. “We hope that leaders of all Ontario organizations engaged in dialogue on the role of wind energy in Ontario – regardless of their views on wind energy – will clearly articulate their support for a dialogue that is free of harassment and the threat of violence to interested citizens and members of the wind energy industry.”
CanWEA believes municipalities and communities have a vital role to play in any new local development, and has always encouraged municipal governments and citizens to take full advantage of all opportunities for engagement under the Green Energy Act. Municipal engagement and consultation is an important part of the renewable energy development process. The Renewable Energy Approval (REA) requires municipal consultation, including public consultations and CanWEA has always advocated that its members go beyond minimum regulatory requirements.