Listowel Banner editorial
As has often been the case over the last how many months, Invenergy Canada came up in discussion during a recent editorial meeting in The Banner newsroom.
Staff expressed concern over the timeliness of the wind energy company’s most recent response.
On Wednesday, Jan. 23, the Listowel Banner ran a page 2 story called ‘Wind turbine safety concerns heard at council.’ The story detailed local residents Tim Martin and Karen Galbraith’s presentations.
Martin discussed potential safety problems with the proposed industrial wind turbines, including fire, ice buildup projected from spinning blades and interference with air ambulance traffic.
Martin cited an incident in Texas when a fire on a wind turbine caused one worker to fall to his death.
Galbraith, of Legacy Holsteins, re-iterated a common concern among local producers regarding stray voltage.
That same week, The Banner contacted Invenergy Canada for a response. We wanted to write a story on the company’s stance on these potential problems. The Banner’s inquiries were not immediately answered. Later, an Invenergy spokesperson indicated the information The Banner was seeking may be available in time for the Jan. 30 paper, or it may not be. It wasn’t. We continued to request information. The answers to our questions weren’t made available until well past press deadline for the Feb. 6 edition. The story, therefore, didn’t hit the streets until the Feb. 13 newspaper.
Invenergy is aware of The Banner’s deadlines. In the past, company spokespeople were happy to work with us in our coverage on both sides of the issue. Communication has been on the decline, and we’re disappointed. This is a company that claims public input on a potentially life-altering debate is critical. Why then would it take this long to provide answers on what should be basic procedural, health and safety inquiries? Why then, are local residents’ concerns over well-being and livelihood not a higher priority for this so-called community-minded company?
Invenergy Canada has been far from warmly welcomed in this community, despite its repeated claims to be open, accountable and transparent in the public consultation process. Invenergy would be wise to take every opportunity possible to communicate with residents affected by the proposed Conestogo Wind Energy Project for North Perth and Perth East.
This community may be small, but it’s no less important than whatever large projects are on Invenergy’s table. Local residents’ fears and opinions ought to be addressed in a timely manner. When it appears as though Invenergy can’t get around to talking to us, it appears this community doesn’t rank too high on the priority list.
Information centres for the Conestogo Wind Energy project will be open to the public on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 6 p.m. at the Perth East Recreation Centre in Milverton and Thursday, Feb. 28, 6 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion in Listowel.