Wind turbine power project proposed for Western Manitoulin

VIDAL BAY—A consultant for Hudson Management has disclosed that preliminary consultation has begun with First Nations, municipalities and residents on Western Manitoulin Island for a proposed windmill tower project.

Timothy Peterson, a consultant on contract with Hudson Management, told the Recorder on Tuesday, “the Hudson Brothers company own 20,000 acres of property at Vidal Bay, which is west of and abuts the Sheshegwaning First Nation. They (Hudson Management) have been looking into what to do with the property and they decided to have a study conducted on possible wind power development.”

“We have just started to undergo the evaluation of the proposal by getting community input and undertaking an environmental and physical assessment of the property,” said Mr. Peterson. He pointed out the study work, “is being done in conjunction with GDF Gaz De France Suez. They are a huge power company that has developed projects around the world.”

“We’re looking into the feasibility of developing the windmill project, including the feasibility of connecting this (power) underwater through the North Channel to provide services for those on the North Shore, which is the primary focus,” said Mr. Peterson.

Mr. Peterson noted at this point, “we’re not sure as to the number of wind turbines towers that would be looked at; this is still in the preliminary stages. The first thing is to carry out an assessment with the community to get input. As the first step we’re talking to everyone in the community to look at the possibility of advancing the project.”

“Our first consultation meeting was with the Chief of Sheshegwaning First Nation (Joe Endanawas),” said Mr. Peterson. “We talked to him and stressed we’re here to evaluate and assess the project. We are at the early stages of gaining input and have asked Sheshegwaning for their input and if they would like to help out on this project.”

“We had an introductory meeting with the proponents of the wind farm,” Chief Endanawas told the Recorder. “They told us they are a long way from doing anything concrete. Obviously they have a lot of work to be carried out and many hurdles to get past before this project can go ahead.”

“Even when the provincial government was encouraging the development of wind farms, it took a long time to get each project completed. I told them I couldn’t give an opinion on behalf of our community, Zhiibaahaasing, before we consult with our residents. We will have to be consulted before we give our blessings to a project like this and this will also have to be presented to and addressed by the UCCM United Chiefs and Councils of M’Nidoo M’Nissing.”

Emilio Tomaselli, economic development officer with the Sheshegwaning First Natio, also sat in on the meeting with the consultants. “There was an introduction session held about two or three weeks ago where the plans for the potential wind farm were discussed for the West End. But as we were told, everything is at a very preliminary stage right now.”

Mr. Tomaselli pointed out there had already been wind data analysis towers erected at Vidal Bay several years ago.

“We’ll be having many more consultation meetings with local municipalities, First Nations and residents on the proposal,” said Mr. Peterson.

“It’s going to take about a year to a year and a half to gain all the information that we need in terms of community input and get the environmental and physical assessment of the property carried out,” said Mr. Peterson. He noted, “we (Hudson Management) have a hunt camp on the property and we are happy with the other hunt camps that are located in Vidal Bay and we are happy to work with them. We want to make sure regardless of the project going ahead, that everyone can continue to enjoy their property in Vidal Bay.”