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Trial by ambush; Ostrander Point hearing at risk of bogging down, complains lawyer

Since the Environmental Review Tribunal began last month, many have worried the would-be developer of a wind project at Ostrander Point would use its superior financial might to run out the clock on the time-limited appeal hearing or force the appellants to spend all their money and then have to abandon their pursuit.

It seems the appellants’ attorney now shares this concern.

Eric Gillespie, acting for the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, complained loudly last week to the ERT panel members that Gilead Power’s attorneys were attempting to snow the panel under with paper and testimony.

“This is trial by ambush,” Gillespie said, adding that he had learned only late the evening before that that Gilead’s lawyers were intending to call more than 10 witnesses and that he remained in the dark about to what these witnesses would testify.

In what often appears an unfair fight, Gillespie must fend of a multi-headed foe—the Ministry of Environment and the developer—each with deeper pockets and greater resources to draw upon.

PECFN, on the other hand, must rely on the generosity of donors to fund its attempt to overturn the Ministry of Environment decision to allow the construction of nine 500-foot industrial wind turbines on Crown Land on the County’s wild south shore.

Particularly worrisome to Gillespie are two sets of panels of witnesses from Stantec—a consultancy working with Gilead on the project.

“There are several dozens of documents. Each report is hundreds of pages long. They are set to give evidence next week, yet I have no idea what these witnesses are going to talk about.”

Gillespie asked the ERT panel to instruct Gilead’s attorneys to provide a clear and defined indication of about what the witnesses will give evidence.

“Compare it to what we went through,” urged Gillespie.

One of Gilead’s lawyers, Doug Hamilton of McCarthy Tetrault, accused Gillespie of being disingenuous.

“With respect, my friend knows what they (Stantec staffers) are going to talk about,” said Hamilton. “They prepared the EIS [environmental impact statement]. They will testify that they complied with the REA [renewable energy approval] tests.

“We are trying to speed up the process,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton added that the other witnesses would testify about alvars, butterflies, birds and bats, among other issues.

Gillespie wasn’t comforted by Hamilton’s response.

“How am I supposed to prepare for this?” asked Gillespie with growing exasperation.

But ERT panel member Robert Wright said he believed Gillespie might be jumping the gun with his objections, saying the issues would be considered and dealt with as they arose.