by Tracy Stimpson

On Friday night, I attended the opening party for the recently completed Enerdu Power Plant.

Before I go any further, let me give you all a little back story.  Back in the late 80’s, my high school best friend and I were roommates while he was taking Construction Engineering Technology at Algonquin.  Jeff Cavanagh was in his class and I would join them for a beer once and a while.  Sad to say but as our lives took us in different directions, Scott (now working for Cavanagh) and I drifted apart and I haven’t seen him in over 20 years.  As I said, I only hung out with Jeff a half dozen times give or take and haven’t seen him in probably over 30 years now.

First time I ever posted on social media was during the Enerdu debate.  I saw many Stop Enerdu signs and was curious to know what it was all about.  It was during the time that a few posters were making fun of the Mayor Levi’s spelling and grammar.  I thought that was very disrespectful and made the decision to post something.  I started out pretty bad, posting attacks when I felt under attack but I learned a lot.  As time went on, my personal feeling were that Enerdu was following all Provincial requirements and that it should not be a municipal matter.  I posted what I believed to be true from researching everything I could and always believed that Enerdu and Jeff would not hurt the town or the environment.  During this time, people were saying some pretty bad things about Jeff and from what I remembered from my youth, he was a pretty cool lad.

Neither Enerdu nor Jeff ever asked me to support them.  I did it because I thought it was the right thing to do and still do.  Jeff was nice enough to invite me to the party on Friday to thank me for my online support.  The place looked great.  From the outside it was everything the drawings said it would be.  There were lots of windows, a waterfall feature and clean crisp lines.  Inside was even more impressive than out.  The bathroom was nicer than mine at home.  If they took the time to build in comfort for their employees (even a shower), you can be sure the rest was top of the line.

After a couple of beers, I got to meet Jeff.  As soon as I said my name, he smiled, shook my hand and said thanks.  We talked about Scott, we talked about the plant and then we talked social media.  He thanked me for being the voice that he could not be.  It’s not very professional posting comments online but he did read each and every post.  Later on, I saw him giving a tour to a few people and asked if I could join.  Everyone I passed during the tour was proudly talking about their contribution to the project.  You could tell from the way Jeff talked that he was also proud of the plant and those that helped to build it.  At one part of the tour he talked about how hard it is to keep water out of the plant.  Some said that a little water was fine but he insisted that the plant be bone dry.  They went above and beyond to ensure the plant would be around for hundreds of years making clean energy.

From talking to Jeff to him thanking MVCA and other environmental groups in his speech for their help, you could tell that his motives were pure in this project.  It was sad that he had to endure all the personal attacks that were made against him on social media.  It got me thinking.  We as a people have every right to question actions that may affect our lives.  Social media allows us to share those thoughts across the world within seconds.  What we must not do is use our words to hurt one another.  Name calling and personal attacks are no way to make a point.  My favorite phase to use when posting on social media is “attack the problem, not the person’.

The Enerdu chapter of our lives in Mississippi Mills has now come to a close but there are always other issues that will occur.  Some say the Enerdu debate started the divide in our town.  Hopefully, now that the project has ended so to can the divide that separates us.  As we approach this election season, I hope we will remember that those running for office are our neighbours and friends.  We may not agree with their politics or beliefs.  We must however agree that personal attacks do nothing but hurt your fellow man

With that said, I would like to say thank you to Jeff Cavanagh.  You built a beautiful plant that we can all be proud of.  You did not let us down