County council growing impatient awaiting answers on Ostrander Point wind project
It is likely the case that officials at Shire Hall have no more insight on the imminent development of an industrial wind factory on the shores of South Marysburgh than any other interested County resident.
Not for lack of trying. On at least three occasions, likely more, the County of Prince Edward has attempted to engage provincial officials and developer, Gilead Power, to get answers to a list of concerns it has about this project.
In the fall of 2010 County council, along with it’s staff, prepared a list of 14 issues (see sidebar) to which it sought answers prior to the province’s approval of Gilead Power’s Ostrander Point project.
By February 2011 Gilead Power responded with vague assurances that it would work with the municipality on some of their concerns but made no commitment to any specific undertaking.
The province, however, remained silent. To this day it has never answered council’s questions. It simply ploughed through the concerns raised with the same disregard it has shown environmental and conservation groups worried that 400-foot turbines will devastate migrating bird populations and the habitat of many other species in this delicate ecosystem.
Seeking to apply pressure on the province, County council voted to impose a moratorium on wind energy development in the municipality until its questions and concerns had been addressed. (The motion carried nine to six with councillors Barry Turpin, Bev Campbell, Jamie Forrester, Brian Marisett, Dianne O’Brien and Barb Proctor voting against.)
So in January last year—again responding to a sudden decision that the Gilead project was graduating to the environmental review process, with a deadline for submissions running once again over the Christmas holidays— council reconvened to toughen its demands by adding a set of new issues to the list of matters to be addressed.
The original motion, as it was drafted, declared the Ostrander Point site an “inappropriate site” for the proposed project and said it “should not be approved” for an industrial wind turbine development.
But fears of provincial reprisals prompted council to soften the wording. “Inappropriate site” and “not be approved” were replaced by the more supplicant request to “mitigate” council’s concerns.
They needn’t have bothered. For even this watered down request for answers was ignored by provincial officials.
Now the municipality has a new deadline. Its solicitors are likely to suggest that a new appeal will result in the same outcome; that chasing the province for answers on this project is a waste of time and money.
Council will have to decide on Wednesday if it is simply going to roll over and accept that it has no role in the development of wind energy development— that its input into the radical reshaping County’s natural beauty, economy and environment is meaningless.
Or will it choose to stand behind the folks in this community who believe it is wrong?
Prior to, or as a condition of, any Renewable Energy Approval for the Gilead Power Corporation Ostrander Point Wind Energy Park, the following matters must be addressed to the satisfaction of the County of Prince Edward:
1. Identify the following additional municipal approvals, permits and authorizations: a. Overweight/oversize load permits. An agreement between the municipality and the Proponent may be required to describe the approved route, terms of travel and the nature of the repairs. etc.
2. Require a pre-development agreement between the municipality and the proponent for the recovery of municipal costs associated with the project review, approval, construction and operation.
3. Require a Traffic Management Plan to be developed by the proponent in collaboration with the Public Works Department, for review and approval by the Commissioner of Public Works.
4. Require an agreement between the municipality and the proponent for the identification of the haul roads, the determination of their pre-construction condition, all widening and strengthening requirements, development of an approvals process for any municipal road improvements, assessment and allocation of damages to the road network, responsibility for repairing damages and the deposit with the Municipality of sufficient security to cover the cost of any damages. Municipal roads will be used for the transport of the turbine components to the site and other construction traffic. It is anticipated that some road widening and strengthening will be required. The municipality will require assistance with the inspection and assessment of the haul roads, review and approval of road widening and strengthening plans, identification of financial security requirements, and construction inspections, ongoing review and maintenance of the road network during construction and final repair of the road network.
5. All municipal year-round and seasonal roads and road right-of-way associated with the construction, operation and decommissioning phases of the project need to be clearly identified. There are a number of the roads within the Municipality that are not maintained by the Municipality on a year-round basis (Helmer Road). The associated short-term and long term impacts and mitigation measures need to be identified by the Proponent for those roads not maintained on a year-round basis and such roads will need to be improved, at the Proponent’s expense, sufficient for year round vehicle access.
6. Require an Emergency Response Plan to be developed by the Proponent in collaboration with the Fire chief that takes into consideration such matters as the volunteer base of the Fire Department with respect to any medical first response or fire call, especially during the construction phase; acknowledges the Municipal limit of service to ground level assistance only for all core services specified by Prince Edward County by-law 1641-2005; provides a detailed protocol to streamline Municipal personnel action whenever they are required on site; provides key 24-7 contact information to be utilized during any mishap; and actively maintains the contact information beginning at the start of the construction phase and continued for the duration of the project until final decommissioning.
7. That Hydro One be advised that Council previously passed a motion requesting the use of a designated unopened road allowance and Maypul Lane to connect to the Milford substation site and that the Prince Edward County motion is honoured. 8a. That Gilead Power Corporation conduct individual consultation on the new plan under the Green Energy Act patterned on the previous consultation with those property owners west of Ostrander Road and north to South Bay and along County Road 13 east to Hill Top Road intersection.
8. That Gilead Power Corporation meet with these owners prior to construction to explain the process and collectively every six months after construction completion to address issues and provide updates.
9. That the Province develop a regulation requiring annual payment to the municipality from renewable energy projects in the amount of $7,500. per megawatt plus profit sharing based upon 4% of output plus annual cost of living, exclusive of regular taxes/ or in lieu provincial payment for taxes for crown land and recovery of costs.
10. That the Province require identification of and mitigation measures to address the impact on the County’s economy, particularly tourism-dependent business sector (e.g. retail, hospitality) during the construction phase.
11. That the Province require the decommissioning plan to also address and include plans for repowering to provide for ongoing operations of the subject site.
12. That the Province create a rehabilitation security fund similar to the Aggregate resources Act to recover the decommissioning of a site should the owner be delinquent.
13. That given the proposed construction date of August to December, and the proposed routes, that Gilead be required to develop an access route by water option and/or air combinations.
14. That Gilead Power Corporation be requested to give consideration to the potential impact to the ground water supply resulting from the project.
15. That the Province of Ontario and Gilead Power Corporation provide mitigation measures for the following concerns: • The ongoing and unresolved adequacy of the proposed setbacks of industrial wind turbines from the residents in the area to avoid negative human health impacts and significantly reduced quality of life due to the noise emissions of the wind turbines.
• There are no proposed mitigation methods for the noise emissions.
• The construction of the infrastructure on the property turbine foundations, access roads will permanently alter environmentally sensitive area.
• The proposed facility is in a candidate Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI), and Important Bird Area (IBA). The site has numerous natural features for which there are prescribed setback requirements that have not been met.
• The construction of the infrastructure will permanently result in the fragmentation of the south shore of Prince Edward County.
• The operation of the facility will create a significant and negative effect on the migratory birds and insects that use the area.
• The construction, operation and decommissioning of the facility will have a significant and negative impact on the threatened species that breed on the site and in the area.
• The proposed mitigation measures for the natural environment are insufficient.
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