The Ontario Municipal Board hearing has kicked off at the Municipality of Kincardine Administration Centre and it was a hot ticket on Monday.
The parking area and public gallery were both full to hear the opening statements by Enbridge representatives and the appellants against the project.
The appeals are addressing a total of 38 zoning bylaws, including 55 turbines throughout the specific properties.
Enbridge representative Jane Pepino looked to have Fridays withdrawn from the hearings, in order for those involved to get home and organized in time for the weekend. This Monday (May 7) will also be withdrawn from the proceedings.
OMB Chair J.P. Atcheson said to compensate for the lost time, the hearing could see time extended in the mornings or evenings. Atcheson said if the municipal schedule permitted, the days would be made longer to accommodate.
Appellant and engineer Bill Palmer said his witness is only available this week, so they would have to sit this week. Atcheson asked if rescheduling was possible and Palmer said it wasn’t certain. Appellant John Thompson said he had to rearrange vacation time to attend and it would have to be rescheduled.
Enbridge representative Steve O’Melia walked through an overview of the Enbridge project with Bruce County’s Kincardine planner Leah Andrews, with seven volumes of information put forward on behalf of Bruce County and the Municipality of Kincardine as evidence. Such information included the Bruce County Official Plan, maps of the zoning area for the project, maps outlining the zoning bylaws that have been accepted, along with those that are under appeal and a zoning layout of the Bruce County and Municipality of Kincardine and relevant data.
Andrews then gave a chronological run down of the Enbridge Ontario Wind Power Project, from its beginnings with Leader Wind Corp., to the pre-hearings held in December and up until the beginning of the hearing.
Kincardine resident Ron Stephens then interrupted the proceedings, saying he was given assurance he and any other person would be able to be heard at some point in the hearing.
Atcheson said it would be permitted, as long as those speaking provided an outline of what they would be discussing to all parties and stay within the prescribed topics.
Of the three originally on record to speak, five more were added as participants. Ron Stephens, Lynne Dicocco of Kincardine Twp., Janice McKean of RR2 Tiverton, Gary Shepherd of RR1 Kincardine and Peter Sullivan of RR4 Paisley were added as participants.
Hutchison then addressed the purpose of her case, representing over 20 appellants, on the basis of the impact on private property, improper placement of turbines, failure to use scientific and lack of information from the proponent in a timely fashion. They also questioned the zoning from a safety standpoint, in terms of noise, ice throw and impact on “˜sensitive receptors’ or area residents.
Bill Palmer said his appeals would question the zoning of the sites, based on his knowledge and skill as a certified professional engineer.
Tony Clark, a resident on Bruce Twp. Con. 12, said his appeal was based on making the project a better one for the municipality, as there was a lack of information and answers available from the proponent since the start.
John Thompson, who home schools his children on Con. 10, based his zoning appeal around the health and safety concerns for his children. Thompson said the whole appeal process has made him feel like a criminal for contesting the project, even though he’s just taking part in the democratic process. He’s in favour of wind power, but feels the project isn’t planned well.
Pepino then described the resistance to the project as a “minority”, introducing witnesses who don’t even live in the general area. She said the project is appropriate to the municipality and constitutes good planning in line with the Provincial Policy Statement.
Pepino said the hearing shouldn’t be turned into a “soap box” for a public inquiry into wind turbine projects, to question whether or not they’re acceptable. She then said wind energy is not on trial and any witnesses who argue against anything but zoning-specific issues, should be considered irrelevant to the hearing, unadmissable or should be given little weight towards their cause.
She said Enbridge should not carry the financial burden for the time needed to hear the witnesses, if their testimony and facts are not related to this specific project. Pepino added that any additional information that’s brought forward that’s not disclosed to all parties, is against the rules of the board.
Much of the information that’s to be brought forward is based on opinion, speculation or internet-based information, which can’t be properly questioned or tested, she said.
The appellants then brought forward Raymond Duhamel, of Jones Consulting Group as a witness, who has been involved in renewable energy projects in Grey Highlands, Blue Mountains and the Niagara region.
Duhamel began to bring forward evidence questioning the positioning of the 38 turbine sites and details on how they are proposing the bylaws to be changed within the prescribed area.
The data to be brought forward was based around a “˜base map’ detailing the turbine locations, as well as information from other consultants and sources.
The meeting was adjourned at 4 p.m., to reconvene on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. The hearing is scheduled to end no later than June 15.
By Troy Patterson
Kincardine News Staff
2 May 2007
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