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Wainfleet won’t appeal turbine setback ruling

The Township of Wainfleet won’t appeal a recent Superior Court of Ontario judge’s decision that struck down its turbine setback bylaw.

“Our lawyer made it clear to us if we did seek an appeal, it probably wouldn’t go in our favour,” Mayor April Jeffs said.

“We also looked at how much money we have spent on this and decided not to appeal,” she added.

Aldermen met behind closed doors last week with lawyer Donald C. DeLorenzo, of the firm of Daniel and Partners LLP.

Wainfleet had been taken to court after a lawsuit was filed by the law firm of Aird and Berlis LLP in July 2012 on behalf of Wainfleet Wind Energy, which is looking to install a number of wind turbines in the township. The company is owned by the Loeffen family and Tom Rankin, CEO of Rankin Construction, who bought into it in 2012.

The lawsuit was in relation to a bylaw that called for a two-kilometre setback of wind turbines from residences, instead of the 550-metre setback allowed by the province under the Green Energy Act.

Township staff had told council it had no authority to pass the bylaw because the Green Energy Act supersedes local decision-making. Wainfleet had also previously passed a moratorium on the construction of wind turbines.

Rankin’s lawyers had appeared before council in 2012 to tell alderman they couldn’t pass the setback bylaw and that it would not stand up, but it was passed.

While no dollar figure has been established, sources said the lawsuit could cost Wainfleet upwards of $200,000 for its costs and that of Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc.

Jeffs said there’s a strong chance Wainfleet may not have to pay any legal costs or damages to the wind energy company, which is planning to install five wind turbines in the township.

“They couldn’t prove council didn’t act in good faith with the bylaw.”

Other municipalities and anti-wind group did help to generate a pot for Wainfleet’s legal costs.