By Trish Allison
For the last decade residents of Prince Edward County have been left wind tossed as locals and outside third parties discuss the possibilities of bringing turbines to the county.
In an effort to move the controversial talks forward Nicole Kleinsteuber, a 3rd year journalism student at Loyalist College hosted an online discussion on the issue of wind energy last week.
“It was great to initiate that conversation and just get it started and have people thinking about moving forward and what options are available to the community to get past this,” said Kleinsteuber.
The discussion was open to the public giving them an opportunity to speak and ask questions to a panel of experts and political figures including Prince Edward Hastings MPP Todd Smith, County Sustainability Group member, John Legate and Prince Edward Country mayor Peter Mertens.
Mertens believes the event was a success, but he believes it won’t change anybody’s mind.
“Just looking at the participants, these are people that have made their views known a considerable number of times… so nothing that I saw or nothing that I read really was new news,” he said.
“I doubt very much that after this length of time, that any of the information presented… I don’t think they are going to sway anyone to abandon their positions. We have two very polarized positions here and they’re not very receptive to being swayed the other way.
The online discussion lasted a lengthy 90 minutes before panelists began to leave to attend to other business. But despite the early exits the discussion reached over 200 people, peaking at 107 participants at the same time, however, not all participants where happy with the event or the venue.
“I think it was a good first try and if it’s going to be done again, perhaps make it a little easier for people to use the facility, or whatever you would call it,” said Orville Walsh, chair for The County Coalition for Safe and Appropriate Green Energy (CCSAGE).
Walsh was one of many who were unable to submit comments due to a surge of comments from the many discussion visitors.
“I was a bit disappointed because I thought the stated purpose was, I think moving forward, was the theme that had been talked about and it didn’t seem to accomplish that,” said Walsh during a phone interview.
“The discussion didn’t seem to be moving the discussion forward at all.”
However, it was a different outlook for the host who believes her small community holds the power to make change. Despite the technical difficulties and expressed concerns, Kleinsteuber is pleased with how the night turned out.
“Last night’s online discussion went really well, a lot of the community came out, logged on, asked a lot of really good questions, and addressed a lot of concerns about the community moving forward past this decade long debate about wind farms in the county,” she said.
“There was a lot of discussion about giving municipalities the right to decide where turbines are placed and how many are being placed. Some people agreed that, that would eliminate the debate.