Wind and Tourism

Many people in my community depend on tourism for their livelihood. So naturally, opponents of wind energy like to claim that a wind farm will drive tourists away. But is this really true?

The Prince Edward Island Energy Corp installed a wind farm at North Cape in 2004. North Cape is about as remote as it gets on PEI – it is a 3 hour drive from Charlotteown, and at the end of the road. When they installed it, they approached the Provincial government for financial assistance to build a visitor centre. They anticipated that many visitors would be attracted to see the wind farm, and there was a need for some facilities.

The government of the day thought that was ridiculous. Who would want to go see a wind farm? So funds were not approved for a visitor centre.

In the first year, they had 10’s of thousands of visitors. They got their visitor centre.

Recently, the Ravenswood wind farm was a stop on a motorcycle rally for over 30. Over 200 attended its grand opening. And it has become a regular stop for Communities in Bloom.

The tiny Ferndale wind farm on the Bruce Peninsula hosts lots of visitors too. There have been school groups, regular summer tours, women’s groups, outdoor festival participants, and university professors. There have been business people looking at developing wind farms, or making components for wind turbines. There have been renewable energy tours, college and university field trips, and kids from a nearby summer camp. There have been people from Kansas, Nebraska, Massachusetts, the Netherlands, the UK, and France, as well as Lion’s Head, Stokes Bay and Wiarton. There are well over 1000 people per year go through the tour. Some of the visitors come to the Peninsula specifically to see the turbines and learn about them. For others, it is simply something that enhances their visit.

A wind farm tour can’t compete with the Bruce Trail, the bluffs, the beaches, the National Park, the ferry, the pow-wow or the blue grass festival. Nor should it. But for many, it can enhance the experience of visiting the Peninsula.

The Bruce Peninsula is full of attractions and natural beauty that draws vistors. But there is one area that does not draw tourists. And that is the beef farming area in the mid peninsula. This is the area that has been proposed for a larger wind farm. But tourists do not come to watch hay dry. Or cows chew their cud. Those vistas, as compelling as they may be, are available to them far closer to home.

No, a wind farm in beef country will have no negative effect on tourism. It hasn’t so far. And if we do it right, it may well be a tourist draw.

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