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City will fight Horizon claims

The City of Thunder Bay will file a legal defence to Horizon’s $126-million lawsuit within the month, the city manager says.

The city received Horizon’s statement of claim late Tuesday, and it was reviewed by city lawyers until late in the evening, Tim Commisso said Wednesday.

Horizon launched the suit after city council voted this week to move four proposed wind turbines away from the Nor’Wester Mountain escarpment, and farther back to where 14 other proposed turbines would be erected.

Council, in a meeting that stretched into the early morning hours of Tuesday, approved the execution of a lease agreement with Horizon for the wind farm location. Council, however, asked that four of the turbines be moved. Horizon wants them put back.

Moving turbines, Commisso said, was allowed under the lease agreement.

“The provision in the lease . . . indicates that we have to act reasonably in making that decision (to relocate turbines),” he said.

Commisso said the lease also allows for the dispute to be settled through arbitration – which the city will seek -instead of court proceedings.

The city said the primary goal of the lawsuit is to get the four turbine back to their original proposed spots.

Most of the $126 million sought by Horizon is for secondary relief – money in the event the turbines aren’t put back.

Horizon is also claiming that the city delayed the process and breached confidentiality. The city says it simply exercised due diligence, and “worked steadily to move the project forward.”

The project was subject to several public meetings and significant public debate and discussion, the city says.

The city “believes Horizon will be unable to support its claim for damages,” said Commisso.

None of the allegations in Horizon’s statement of claim have been proven in court.

He said he hasn’t spoken to anyone from Horizon directly since the lawsuit was launched, but the city decided to make a statement as councillors are being inundated with questions, comments and concerns.

“We provided information to council and we provided information to the media, because this obviously has got a lot of interest,” Commisso said.