Chet Greason, Gazette staff
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne was in Stratford tonight, where she spoke face-to-face with a gathered group of wind turbine protesters outside of Stratford's Army Navy and Air Force Veterans Hall.
Wynne was here touring local industries and throwing her support behind Perth-Wellington Liberal MPP candidate Stewart Skinner. Her tour ended at a fundraising dinner held at the hall, where the 12 protesters were waiting with their signs and slogans.
She assured them her government was putting a different green energy process in place, noting if she could roll back what had been done by the former Liberal government, she would.
"I'm still very committed to clean, renewable energy," she said.
However, she was unwilling to say whether she supported Skinner's proposal to ban wind turbines from prime agricultural land, as she explained earlier that day during a tour of Stratford's Monforte Dairy production and sales facility on Griffith Road, where she shared a plate of fresh camembert and fontina cheeses with owner Ruth Klahsen.
"Stewart and I had this conversation," she said, adding his proposal posed "a challenge" as turbines were something some farmers wanted.
"You can still farm on land with (turbines) on it," she added.
After addressing the protesters outside of the Veterans Hall, Wynne met privately with two of them - organizer Tim Martin of the group Elma-Mornington Concerned Citizens and protester Jack Hovius.
"All in all, I'm glad she spoke to us, but I'm disappointed with the answers," said Martin after the meeting.
"She said not all projects were going ahead, but our point was that no projects should continue," he added, pointing out that his organization was calling for an immediate moratorium on all wind turbine projects.
"The entire green energy program needs to be rethought," he said, adding he thought hydroelectric was the best green option, with biogas seeming the most promising local choice for alternative energy.
Despite their differences of opinion, the protesters thanked Wynne for listening to their concerns.
While cheese-tasting at Monforte, Wynne addressed her government's recently announced plan to invest in infrastructure in the 2014 budget, which will potentially include a focus on transportation.
When asked whether this might mean GO Transit service in Stratford, Wynne seemed hopeful that the train service may be expanded.
"Full day, two-way GO service is a priority, and expanding GO service is a priority," she said.
She noted the current issues Stratford has with limited rail service, adding trains should be made more available as commuters work and travel at different times of day to a variety of municipalities.
She cited Western Europe as an example of a region with excellent train service, where residents can commute by train at any time.
"We're a long way away from that, but that's the image I have in my mind," she said.