The Carlington Summit

Editor’s note: Virtual Community Association participant Erwin Dreessen posted a letter he sent in January to regional councillor Wendy Stewart on the discussion group. Here is a portion of that letter containing suggestions for the location of the Friendship Windmill.

Dear Wendy:

Re: Friendship Windmill

I wholeheartedly agree with your op-ed piece in The Citizen of November 19, 1999, and agree that it was extremely moderate in tone. If, as is apparent, John Westeinde and friends persist in their folly, more forceful counters most certainly are in order. My own contribution, which I invite you to ask staff to follow up on, is the constructive one of proposing as a site 1740 Woodroffe Avenue, a former location of the Research Branch of then Agriculture Canada. (The site is sometimes referred to as the “Greenbelt Research Farm.”) I understand that, as of the end of December 1999, the land has reverted to the National Capital Commission. It is opposite the Nepean Sportsplex. It would be useful to verify that the site is serviced, as I suspect it is. The contact to follow up in the NCC is Gilles Lalonde, 239-5204, to whom I have not spoken.

I will testify that, standing at Woodroffe Avenue and looking over the landscape, nothing could be more Dutch than that. In fact, scant years ago, Agriculture Canada conducted wind measurement experiments here, this site having been chosen as the one with the most consistent winds anywhere in Ottawa. (This too is worth follow-up. Given the virtual dissolution of the Research Branch, the best advice I received was to go visit the library in the John Carling Building and look through the Branch's Annual Reports of the last few years...)

Where is the water, you ask? This is the most serious bogus criterion in the Friendship Windmill group's list. In a Dutch landscape a windmill need not be at a waterway. It typically stands in the vast flat land. Yes, it may churn water to keep the land dry, but that is through a network of canals and dikes, not Streams or Lakes.

At the end of April, I will go on my annual pilgrimage home and will take out the time to visit some Dutch windmill landscapes. I expect to come back with visuals that will demonstrate what these are really like. (The last picture shown at the November 15 public meeting, by the way, of the boy standing under the sails, blissfully, conveyed the essence of why having a real, full-size, functioning windmill around enriches our lives.) I invite you to serve notice to the promoters that, if they persist, they will be confronted with some real evidence regarding the authenticity of their analogies.

The other attraction to that portion of the Greenbelt as a site is that, inherent to its use for a mighty windmill, there would have to be a covenant that the landscape be preserved - no crowding in of buildings, no highrises for technology firms here. The people of Ottawa would have a significant additional incentive to embrace this project if it came with such a guarantee. No gift to the people of Ottawa and Canada can have greater synergy than this one.

I am truly dismayed by the promoters' strategy, of harping on veterans-related sympathies for the advancement of their cause. Who wishes to argue against veterans? However, on that subject, my greatest surprise and disappointment on November 15 was the lack of attention devoted to the memorial for those fallen in the liberation of The Netherlands: maybe a quiet spot on the side somewhere, John said. It makes one very suspicious.

You advised me to publicize my constructive alternative in some way. I will endeavour to do so, whether it be in a letter to the Editor of The News (this paper's delivery is sporadic, however, at least to my mailbox, which diminishes my inclination to take that route), or in a letter to John Westeinde or Ed Cuylits (cc the media), or through an intervention at a public meeting following a formal application.


Erwin Dreessen.