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Community Vibrancy Fund moves forward

Natalie Clewley
Published on Sep 27, 2011

The Sachem

Haldimand County Council has passed a motion in support of establishing an agreement with renewable energy project proponents by creating a Community Vibrancy Fund.

During the six-hour public debate, 41 concerned residents of Haldimand County and members of Haldimand Wind Concerns were heard at the podium.

“As council it is your job to protect the citizens of Haldimand County,” said Pat Morris, a concerned resident.

“The Community Vibrancy Fund is a sellout. I am worried about my property values and my well-being,” she added.

Bill Montour from Six Nations of the Grand River told Mayor Ken Hewitt and council members during the September 26 council meeting, “We are here to lend our support to the citizens in Haldimand County.”

“We will stand behind the people of Haldimand County,” he said.

Several references were made by residents in regards to the Samsung commercial Mayor Hewitt has been seen in.

“This is terrible,” said Bonnie Stevens, a concerned resident.

“Mayor Hewitt is the spokesperson for Samsung,” said Gary McHale, founder of Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality (CANACE).

John Laforte, the president of Wind Concerns Ontario said Mayor Hewitt is abandoning the county’s best interests by supporting The Community Vibrancy Fund agreement.

“This is epically a bad idea,” said Laforte.

“It is clear the $40 million is more important than the residents,” he added.

A total of $40 million contributed from renewable energy companies will be put towards the Community Vibrancy Fund.

Earlier in the day, Mayor Hewitt told members of the local media ““I believe Wind Concerns Ontario has played a lot of innocent people in this area. They have done more damage than good and given people a false hope.”

Merlyn Kinrade, a resident of Caledonia told Mayor Hewitt he feels betrayed by the agreement that has been made.

“It is up to you to stand up for the people in this county,” he said.

Concerned residents asked many questions to council and Mayor Hewitt why the agreement was needed when council previously passed a motion in support of a moratorium on industrial wind projects.

According to Mayor Hewitt, the Community Vibrancy Fund Agreement will benefit the county by creating jobs and provide sustainability for the county.

“I fail to understand why this is a bad decision. I don’t see why this is a bad thing,” Mayor Hewitt told members of the local media earlier in the day.

“Two to five full-time jobs will be created,” said Betty Ortt, a member of Haldimand Wind Concerns.

“We are not open for wind turbines,” she added.

“There is a perception that you are selling us short,” said Tim Grech, owner and operator of the Niagara Skydive Centre at the Dunnville Airport.

“The process seems to be flawed,” he added.

Grech said he has been trying to sell his home for the past year but has been unsuccessful due to six wind turbines that are located near his property.

“People won’t even get out of their car to look at my property,” he said.

“I don’t have health effects from the turbines but my neighbour does,” he added.

During the end of the debate Mayor Hewitt asked which council members were in favour of the motion to authorize the execution of an agreement with renewable energy project proponents for the purpose to establish a Community Vibrancy Fund. Councillor Grice, Councillor Delmonte, Councillor Boyko and Mayor Hewitt raised their hands. When asked who is opposed Councillor Shirton raised his hand.

A loud response was heard from the crowd of concerned residents as they left the council chambers.