WAINFLEET – A legal defence fund will be set up to help the township deal with fees from a lawsuit that could run into the hundreds of thousands.
It will operate as Wainfleet Legal Fund and be run by Value Media Corp., St. Catharines resident Andy Petrowski told Wainfleet council on Tuesday.
“I’m on your side. I’m in support of the township moratorium (on wind turbines),” said Petrowski, who came as a private citizen but is also a regional councillor for St. Catharines.
Wainfleet is currently facing a lawsuit by Wainfleet Wind Energy over a two kilometre setback bylaw it passed in relation to wind turbines last year. Council heard the bylaw, which calls for wind turbines to be at least two kilometres away from residences, would not stand as the province’s Green Energy Act overrides any local decision making, but passed it anyway.
In late December, Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs gave a deposition in relation to the lawsuit, which will proceed on March 11 in St. Catharines.
“You’re facing significant legal fees and could see a much higher expenses if the plaintiff files for costs in their favour if they win. You could be running into hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Petrowski.
He told council he wants to mount a serious effort to raise funds for the township and said his organization, Value Media Corp., would visit the 90 or so municipalities in Ontario that expressed opposition to wind turbines.
“We’ll utilize social media to alert people to the existence of the fund and attract attention to it. We’ll leave no stone unturned.”
Petrowski made three pledges to the township, one of which was that the fundraising efforts would come at no cost to the township and would be independent. It would use no municipal resources and the only expenses to be covered, from the fund, would be for travel and time.
“We’ll run the fundraising with a high degree of professionalism. We are seasoned marketing and financial consultants who do this day in and day out.”
With many municipalities and residents across Ontario sharing the same concerns over wind turbines, Petrowski was confident the group’s efforts would yield results.
He told alderman, the mayor and township staff the group was prepared to stand beside Wainfleet in its legal fight for as long as it carried on.
Council heard there would be no risk to the township with the fund.
Ald. Ted Hessels wanted to hear from staff on the issue and wondered if they had any recommendations.
Township CAO Scott Luey spoke with Petrowski before the council meeting about the fund and told Hessels, and council, there was nothing illegal, untoward or unsavoury about it.
“It’s probably a good idea … to make up some of the funds will relieve the taxpayer,” said Luey.
He said it was an idea staff and council had looked at before, but the township lacked the expertise to do the kind of work Petrowski and the legal fund would be doing.
While the township doesn’t have charitable status, it can still give out tax receipts for those who donate to the fund. Township treasurer Robyn Madere said Wainfleet can issue receipts for a couple of reasons. One of which is if the donation is beneficial to the community.
“I think this is a benefit to the community,” she said of the fund.
Council passed a motion calling for the fund to be started and operated as Wainfleet Legal Fund, through Value Media Group.
Ald. Richard Dykstra and Mayor Jeffs both thanked Petrowski for coming with his offer and for backing up the township.
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