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OMB to decide whether Wolfe Island wind project proceeds

Residents of Wolfe Island have appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board in an effort to block an 86-turbine wind power project from being built on Wolfe Island, near Kingston.

“People are almost in denial about looking at the impacts of this,” local resident Barry Gilbert told an OMB hearing on Wolfe Island Tuesday.

The OMB is holding the hearing this week on the proposal from Canadian Hydro Developers Inc., after receiving an appeal application from local residents Sarah McDermott and James Day.

Gilbert, one of dozens who crowed the hearing to voice an opinion, said the fact that some landowners are getting paid to accept the turbines on their land may affect their judgment about the negative environmental effects of the project that is intended to supply enough renewable power for 75,000 homes.

Gilbert argued that more research is needed about the effects of wind turbines on wildlife such as birds, which are sometimes killed when they fly into the turbines.

Mark Mattson, spokesman for the conservation group Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, told the board he is concerned about the transmission lines that would need to be put under the water to carry the power from Wolfe Island to the mainland.

“It’s up to the public to really push the government, get involved and make sure that profits don’t just trump habitat and fish loss,” he told CBC News, “that they’re able to come together, balance each other out and that this is a win for everyone.”

Meanwhile, other residents such as Kent Bostock attended the hearings to speak in favour of the turbines that Canadian Hydro Development Inc. is to build in order to fulfil a power contract with the Ontario Power Authority.

“They’re not unattractive, they’re quiet,” said Bostock, who added that he can’t understand why anyone would be opposed to them.

Kenny White, one of many residents who signed contracts with Canadian Hydro agreeing to have turbines on their property in exchange for royalties, said he’s glad to have the extra income and glad to see the money going into the community.

The hearings are to continue until Friday, with speakers including representatives of Canadian Hydro, the power authority and the Frontenac Islands Township Council, which approved the project.

The board generally makes a decision within 90 days, and usually within 30, said spokesman Bob Wilson.

If it decides the project should go ahead, no further appeals will be allowed unless there has been an alleged mistake in law, he added.

CBC News

25 July 2007