The Municipality of Grey Highlands has approved a number of building and entrance permits that will allow the construction of industrial wind turbines in that municipality.
The battle Grey Highlands council has been waging against the turbine project came to an end at council’s regular meeting on June 27. The municipality approved permits for the International Power Canada (IPC) Plateau Wind project.
IPC agreed to pay the municipality $5,000 per turbine for an entrance permit and also paid $800,000 in securities to cover the cost of repairing municipal roads and infrastructure during construction. IPC also paid building permit fees and decommissioning securities requested by the municipality.
“Council has approved both of the agreements and approved the entrance permits. The municipality has approved all the building permits and entrance permits for all of the turbines except for turbine one,” Grey Highlands CAO Dan Best explained in an interview. “There is an issue on turbine one between the land owner and IPC,” Best noted.
“They’re moving ahead full steam,” Best said of the turbine project.
The CAO said the council meeting on June 27 was packed with opponents of the wind turbine project. For over a year Grey Highlands council has been delaying the Plateau project as it sought legal opinions and options to stop the turbine project that is very controversial with local citizens. However, the McGuinty government’s Green Energy Act essentially removed all planning authority local municipalities have over alternative energy projects.
Best said council had essentially come to the end of the line. At the meeting council approved six entrance permits and 10 building permits. The Plateau project is for a total of 11 turbines.
“There was no legal reason not to approve the entrance permits,” he confirmed.
The CAO explained that IPC did not have to pay new wind turbine building permit fees that Grey Highlands council recently approved.
“Their permits were in before the new fees and charges bylaw. They get to pay the old rate,” he said. “Anybody else will now have to pay $35,000 per turbine,” he said.
The only issue remaining between Grey Highlands and IPC is an agreement for use of municipal roads. Council previously turned down a proposed road use agreement. That led IPC to challenge that decision at the Ontario Energy Board (OEB). The OEB ruled that the company could use the roads, but council sought to have that decision reviewed by the courts. CAO Best said issue remains outstanding, but would not delay the turbine project.
“That items could still come up for discussion,” he said. “There’s no need for a road agreement. The municipality can’t deny the use of its road, but it would be nice to have that agreement,” he said.
Local resident and Plateau project opponent Lorrie Gillis said she was disappointed how things ended up. She said there were threats of legal action against members of council and she could understand why they chose to approve the permits.
“We understand if they’re going to be held personally liable. It’s not a good thing when our local council is put in that position. It’s forced and they’re being bullied,” Gillis said in an interview, promising that the opponents of the project would continue their fight. “We’re not done. The consequences are so severe there really is no choice. We have to keep going,” she said.
Not long after her interview a Grey Highlands citizen’s group announced it was challenging the governing in court over wind power (see related story in this issue).
The Preserve Grey Highlands Citizens Alliance Inc. announced that it was filing for a judicial review application in the Ontario Divisional Court challenging the issuance of a Certificate of Approval by the Ministry of the Environment for the Plateau Wind Project (see sidebar).
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