On June 4, 2008, the Minister of Tourism confirmed the province’s approval for the Wolfe Island Wind Project. Premier Dalton McGuinty asked the Minister to step in when the Environment Minister declared a conflict-of-interest on May 29, 2008.
Controversy over the Wolfe Island Wind Project centres on the location of a handful of the 86-wind turbines that Canadian Renewable Energy Corporation hopes to build on the island later this year.
The northwest part of Wolfe Island contains designated Important Bird Areas and important natural areas. Expert evidence commissioned by members of the community and supported by some government agencies raised concerns that the wind turbines would destroy rare, critical habitat. With more than 80% of Lake Ontario’s wetlands gone and bird habitat disappearing, the loss of these natural areas could be devastating.
For the last year, Waterkeeper, Wolfe Island Residents for the Environment, and other individuals have attempted to improve the wind project by identifying the locations where turbines could be built such that Wolfe Island’s natural heritage is protected.
We requested a bump up to a full Environmental Assessment of the proposed Wind Project. Or, at the very least, we sought mediation to address environmental concerns. Ingoring these request, the Ministry of the Environment went ahead and approved the CREC’s self-assessment of the Project. In response, Waterkeeper and others appealed to the Ministry of the Environment. Just before the decision-making deadline, Environment Minister John Gerretsen recused himself and the Minster of Tourism denied the appeal.
The Minister of Tourism’s decision arrived before Waterkeeper was provided with notice of the conflict-of-interest.
This week on Living At the Barricades, Waterkeeper talks about the province’s approval for the Wolfe Island Wind Project and the remaining regulatory process – the federal environmental assessment process that is in its early stages.