There is nothing better to spark a community into action like a bit of controversy. The Enerdu project seems to be the latest spark to ignite a really big bonfire. Remain calm, that is what my father would be thinking at this point. So I try to remain calm and think about the pros and cons of this situation.
What drew me into writing this was the request that I comment on behalf of the North Lanark Agricultural Society on how the Enerdu project on the river will affect the Fair in July. As many of you know the fair grounds is often underwater' both literally and financially at times. As a member of the Society I can only comment from my own point of view. I understand that many groups are getting pressure to take a stance on the Enerdu project, good or bad? It is very unlikely that any of the groups that have been asked will take a stance on the project. Why? There just isn't enough information available to make the choice between good or bad.
From the information that I have been given, my opinion is the Enerdu project will not have much of an impact on the Fair. We had a meeting with Jeff Cavanagh over a year ago about the project and he told us some details about the project. From our point of view having the controllable weirs means that they can potentially reduce the amount of flooding on the grounds. Right now with fixed boards in place and heavy rains it can result in the grounds flooding. Most of the fair grounds is on a flood plain so this is to be expected. Our main concern has always been the spring time which is impossible to control. In the case of noise for construction, the majority of our events take place in the evening and on weekends so the noise of construction will not be an issue. For any other type of impact on the fairs grounds I just don't have enough information.
Enerdu, as a private company, wants to make money for it's owners. That isn't all that bad because Enerdu's owners have been in this community a long time. They employ a large number of people. Hopefully Enerdu will employ more. They have given freely of their money, time, equipment and materials to many of the events held in Mississippi Mills and surrounding area. The Fair has been a recipient of their gifts many times. I too have had the benefit of Cavanagh's generosity, Tom Cavanagh was one of the first business people that I met in the area almost 30 years ago; he approached us just after we purchased our first house and asked if he could park his equipment on part of our property while they worked on a project, so that it would not get vandalized. He then proceeded to dump about 50 loads of free fill, leveling it and covering it with top soil when they finished. A mighty big task that we really appreciated.
From a business and engineering point of view, having a building that was underutilized fully developed with interesting technology is great. Who else has the capital to fully develop that building? This will be a world class micro generating station with some really visible weir technology. As a town this could be a great attraction for visitors wanting see this technology in action. The weir technology and the digging out of the river bed gives the generating station a great deal more potential for generating on peak demand. Even, if it is in a small way, are we preventing building another nuclear or fossil fuel generating station? Remember the ice storm and Almonte was only out of power for a day and the area around Almonte went with out power for over 2 weeks in many cases.
If you ever been to Bear River in Nova Scotia you may have seen their sewage treatment station right in the middle of town. They turned lemons in to lemonade when they started giving tours of the sewage treatment plant that used a very green technology. I think a generating station has lots of potential for business development in the community. Combine this with the opportunity of the railroad bed becoming some kind of trail, we now will have a location that from one view point you could see, downtown, a water fall, redeveloped textile mills, two modern generating stations and our beautiful Old Town Hall. It is something a lot of people will appreciate.
Where was all the controversy when they changed the lower falls generating station? The lower falls has no water flowing over them for months on end during the summer. The view at the bottom is obstructed and we still have the ugly old generating station building at the top. I guess since it brings in an additional one million dollars a year to the Almonte Ward it is not a problem.
I know that there are a lot of environmental concerns around this project and I want to know more. I am glad that there are individuals who are working to make sure our government does the right thing and doesn't let something through that shouldn't. I also want to remember that as a look around my house and neighbours all of it comes at a cost, we are the 20% who consume 80%. I'd rather be talking about how we don't need a generating station if we reduce our consumption.
Remain calm, gather information, weigh the pros and cons.