When you meet the team it’s clear that being an active part of the local community is very important to them.
Kevin Aikenhead is the Facility Manager at South Kent Wind, which is located in the southern portion of Chatham-Kent.
While overseeing the facility and managing the team is a significant part of his role, building and maintaining community relationships is a highlight for him and the team.
Epic scooters in Chatham-Kent
One way they connect with the local community is through the South Kent Wind (SKW) Community Fund administered the Chatham Kent Community Foundation (CKCF).
“Our annual contribution to the SKW Community Fund supports community grants and an endowment, which allows the Fund to continue giving to local causes in perpetuity. We are quite proud of the niche developments and projects that it supports. We really try to help diverse local causes and the smaller groups out there. Organizations can apply for grants through the CKCF twice a year.”
South Kent Wind contributed an initial one million dollars to establish the SKW Community Fund Endowment in 2013 and will donate an additional ten million dollars over the next 20 years, with a portion of the annual contribution going into the endowment and a portion going directly to fund grants. This allows the SKW Community Fund to continue creating significant impacts for many generations to come.
One of Kevin’s favourite projects that the SKW Community Fund supported was the Chatham-Kent Scooter Festival.
“Three high school students submitted an application about hosting a scooter event at the Chatham skatepark a couple of years ago. These kids made a great video, they were passionate, they took the initiative, and they put their minds to a goal, and we helped them to achieve it.”
It’s the little things
Meeting grant recipients and attending landowner events are some of Kevin’s favourite memories of his five years working at Pattern Energy. Still, these days it’s the small interactions that help him feel connected to the community.
“During working hours when I’m in the Pattern Canada truck or when I’m in Erieau with my family going for a walk, I often run into landowners. If I didn’t work at Pattern Energy, I wouldn’t have these great relationships.”
A flag worth waiting for
Kevin also has a personal connection with South Kent Wind that he traces to when he was 13 years old.
“When I was in Grade 8, we went on a class trip to Ottawa and we learned that the flag flown at Parliament Hill is changed every day, and each of those flags is mailed out to a Canadian resident. At the time, all you had to do to receive one was write a letter.”
When Kevin wrote his letter in 2004, there was an eight-year wait time to receive one of these flags. He says he didn’t think much more about the letter after he sent it.
“Eleven years later, my parents called me saying that a package from Gatineau had just arrived. I had this massive flag, and it arrived just before Canada Day. The first time I flew it, it was off the back of a wind turbine on Canada Day in 2017 during the Canada 150 celebrations.”
That was a moment he says he’ll never forget.
Today, an online form has replaced the snail-mail letter for Canadian residents interested in receiving one. But be warned: the wait time is a bit longer today: you’ll have to wait over 100 years to get your flag.
When it comes to day-to-day operations at South Kent Wind, Kevin describes his team as “the best—I have an amazing team here. We get along very well, they’re all rock stars, and they love the site and working in the wind industry.”