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Dr. Paul Catling was the first Environmental Review Tribunal witness, on Wednesday, March 6, for the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists. His testimony showed that proper botanical studies had not been carried out as part of the Environment Impact Study of the site. His conclusion was that just 30 per cent of the species occurring on this globally imperilled alvar site has been identified. Dr. Catling also identified several plant species at risk growing at Ostrander Point.
Paul Catling holds a Ph.D and is a Research Scientist for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. He specializes in a number of areas including plant taxonomy, native germplasm, berry crops, medicinal plants, and invading alien plants.
Dr. Catling has numerous affiliations including being on the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, the Board of Directors of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Chair of Biodiversity Publications Committee and Chair of the Ecology Canadian Botanical Association. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Ottawa and has numerous scientific research publications.
Through a PowerPoint presentation, Dr. Catling reviewed his own investigation of Ostrander Point and contrasted it with other studies carries out since the late 1990s. His conclusion was that development of a wind turbine project on the Ostrander Point Crown Land Block would cause serious and irreversible damage to the important natural alvar environment. The sensitive ecology would not withstand the construction of roads, turbine pads, crane pads and lay down areas. All these activities would seriously impact the delicate and rare plant communities at Ostrander Point. Combined with the damage caused by interference with hydrogeology, as much as 50 hectares of the site would be impacted.
Council for the Ministry of the Environment spent the afternoon trying to discredit Dr. Catling’s conclusions. Ms. Davies tried to establish that Ostrander Point was already a seriously impacted ecosystem. She spent a lot of time talking about the presence of European Buckthorn and other invasive species. We heard a lot about studies that Dr. Catling had carried out on various alvar communities in Eastern Ontario. Throughout it all, Dr. Catling remained cool and controlled, easily explaining his work and remaining committed to his original conclusion that Ostrander Point is no place for wind turbines. Dr. Catling’s cross examination will continue on Monday, March 18 with Ms. Davies and finally Mr. Hamilton from Gilead Power.
The Ostrander Point Environmental Review Tribunal, appealing the Ministry of the Environment approval of Gilead Power’s Ostrander Point industrial wind turbine project on the south shore of Prince Edward County.
Tribunal members Robert Wright and Heather Gibbs, lawyers for the Ministry of the Environment and Gilead Power were present along with parties to the appeal, the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) and the Alliance for the Protection of Prince Edward County (APPEC) and their legal representatives Eric Gillespie and Natalie Smith. Appeals are to be heard by PECFN, on grounds of harm to plants, animals or the natural environment; and the APPEC, on grounds of harm to human health.
On Thursday, March 7 the hearing will move back to Toronto to hear evidence from witnesses by video conference. Ian Dubbin and Dr. Robert Barclay are to be heard. Dr. Barclay is a Professor and the Head of the Biological Sciences Department at the University of Calgary. He teaches in the areas of biology, ecology, conservation biology, field biology and mammalogy. In his career he has supervised more than 35 graduate students and has been the recipient of numerous prestigious research grants including the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (“NSERC”) Operating and Equipment Grants. He also has a substantial publication record which includes a long list of peer reviewed articles. Dubbin has presenter status in the hearing. He is a retired engineer from Kingston.
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