If the devil is in the details, he wasn’t present at Monday night’s West Lincoln planning meeting or when the consultant reviewed the submission to the province by Niagara Region Wind Corp.
Both the consultant, who was retained by the township at the cost of NRWC, and members of council used the age-old cliche in their comments on the peer review presented Monday.
Sue-Ellen Merritt, alderman for ward 1, raised a number of issues she felt were not fully addressed by NRWC ranging from what roads will be used to move the wind turbines to their locations, which transmission lines will be buried and possible impacts on a heritage-designated building.
“What happens is we hear, we’ve got that, but you’ll get it later,” Merritt said of responses from NRWC to requests for more information from both township staff and the consultant. “We want it now. We want to have an opportunity to comment this application and again, that information should have come sooner.”
NRWC circulated the draft reports on Nov. 5, starting the 90-day municipal comment period and 60-day public comment period. Jones Consulting Group Ltd., which was retained by the town at the cost of the wind developer, was originally provided with the report on Nov. 19 and revised reports on Dec. 14.
Merritt was concerned that receiving the information at a later date impacted the consultant’s ability to properly review the eight, four-inch binders of information.
“How can we be tied to a 90-day review period, when we received some of the information in December?” Merritt questioned of the Feb. 5, 2013 deadline for comment, which the township did not meet.
Merritt wasn’t the only council member around the horseshoe to express frustration over an apparent lack of information from the wind company.
“The over riding theme is there are a lot of unanswered questions,” said Mayor Doug Joyner.
In his review, Ray Duhamel writes “The Stantec submission was of a good quality and we believe that most, if not all, the Township’s concerns can be addressed by providing some additional information and NRWC making some adjustments to several turbine locations.”
Duhamel suggests the township needs more information on: the haul route and traffic management plan; dispute resolution protocol; the use of certain “substandard” roads and unopened right of ways; an emergency management plan; transmission route location; and rehabilitation plan. Duhamel also outlines issues with of the 44 turbine locations due to their proximity to homes, wetlands and forests in West Lincoln and the use of South Grimsby Road 3 as an alternate transmission route.
Duhamel said of the 10 turbine submissions he has reviewed in the past, NRWC’s was one of good quality but noted there was information missing which could be essential to the municipality.
“This information is so integral to the municipality and we don’t have some of the answers we’ve specifically asked for,” said Duhamel, in response to a question from the mayor. “We’re hearing, ‘we’ll provide that at a later date.’ The problem is, the municipality is required to through the process and provide comment.”
Duhamel said he encourages the developer the provide that detailed information to the township.
“The No. 1 thing is the devil is in the details, and we don’t have the details,” said Duhamel. “Continue to push the proponent to provide that information.”
Company spokesperson Randi Rahamim said NRWC provided all documentation required under the provincial renewable energy approvals process. Much of the information requested by the township, she said, would come at a later date as the project progresses.
“We provided everything that is required under REA,” said Rahamim. “There was nothing missing.
“A lot of what they are asking for is often or always delivered a little further along in the process,” said Rahamim. “Haul routes and transportation plans will be fleshed out in a road use agreement. We intend to provide the township with that information.”
Rahamim said the municipality will have input on the road use agreement and the detailed design work which will come out in the coming months.
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