In case you haven’t heard, a bold new landmark that is under construction will soon grace the skyline of Metro Vancouver. And no, it is neither a glittering skyscraper nor a brightly lit Ferris wheel.
It’s a wind turbine, and will sit atop Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver.
At 65 metres tall, the generator will not be lost in its alpine environment. And given its elevation at more than 1,200 metres, it will be visible from kilometres away.
Proponents of green energy should love this development, which will help power the tourism and ski resort operation near the top of Grouse. It is being touted as B.C.’s first viable wind energy solution.
More importantly, this supersized windmill will be, in its own way, an icon for the region and the province.
I can’t help but think of other sky-high landmarks globally, such as the famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro — which overlooks the Brazilian city from a mountaintop perch with open arms.
Vancouver’s less artful, more mechanical version of Redeemer will at least resonate with the environmentally devout — though that fondness will be far from universal.
At the civic issues blog NorthVancouverPolitics.
com, some area residents have, well, groused about the generator’s visual impact — calling it everything from an “eyesore” to a “permanent blight” to “an unsightly tourist attraction.”
Concerns are also being raised about noise and the impact on local wildlife. An environmental study commissioned for the project showed certain types of birds and bats could be negatively affected.
And while some of the arguments being put forth by the wind machine malcontents are overstated, they are not unwarranted.
Across North America, wind turbines are increasingly being challenged by citizens groups, litigators and government bureaucrats.
Last week, the Ontario Municipal Board turned down a proposal by an Ottawa-based wind farm developer to build a small turbine in his backyard. The Ontario government is also proposing some tough new regulations aimed at the growing industry in that province.
Back in B.C., the issue isn’t even on the public’s radar yet — but the construction of North Van’s towering turbine could soon change that.
And if wind turbines can make a go of it in the NIMBY-friendly North Shore, they probably have a future in many other B.C. communities as well.