NEW ROSS – The Friends of South Canoe Lake and the Homburg Land Bank Corporation concluded giving evidence last week at a Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board hearing which began on May 30 on the proposed South Canoe Project.
The Friends, a community-based group, and Homburg, the company which owns the Sherwood Golf and Country Club, are appealing a decision by the Municipality of Chester to enter into a development agreement with Nova Scotia Power Incorporated, Minas Basin Pulp and Power Limited and Oxford Frozen Foods Limited to construct a wind turbine facility known as the South Canoe Project. The $200-million wind farm would see the development of 34 turbines on a 3,044-hectare property.
Before beginning testimony presider Wayne Cochrane cautioned both parties on his limitations.
“I, as a person here in this appeal, only have the power given to me through the Municipal Government Act to deal with the appeal,” said Mr. Cochrane. “When a decision of council comes before someone like me … you don’t rehear the whole thing. Instead the power under the act is limited to …. was the municipal council’s decision … one that could be seen as reasonably carrying out the intent of the Municipal Planning Strategy. If it does reasonably carry out the intent of the Municipal Planning Strategy. … When they make a decision, when it comes to me, I have to ask myself whether or not council’s decision reasonably fits its own rule book. If it does, then I have to approve it. If it doesn’t … then I reverse it.”
Friends spokesman Emery Peters said this group is the least capable of presenting arguments in this proceeding since he was not a laywer but a concerned citizen. His first witness was Wayne Edgars and his wife, Pam Swainson, who live about 2.5 kilometres from two turbines in the Colchester Cumberland wind project. Both agree the wind farm near their farm is loud and disruptive to their lives.
They were followed by Pamela Ackerman, who lives near the proposed South Canoe site. She said the residents are being treated poorly by the municipality. She said all she wanted was a larger setback from the wind farm and would be happy with two to five kilometres.
“I don’t think they [Chester council] represented the public and that’s their job,” she said during her testimony.
Community liaison committee member Meghan Davies, of New Russell Road, added that the committee had no meaningful input into the project.
“Very after the fact … the developer made some attempt to add some people from the New Ross-New Russell area,” said Ms Davies, noting when members asked questions of the developer, they only received vague answers.
Ms Davies added the municipality did not protect the residential characteristics of the area. She and her family would be located 2.2 kilometres from the nearest turbine.
When Homburg began calling witnesses, company vice-president Frank Matheson said they are considering adding an additional 18-hole golf course on their property. He said if the company goes ahead with the expansion, the property would be located 645 metres from the nearest turbine.
He said if the wind farm is built, it would be impossible for the company to add a second golf course and called the development an “expropriation of lands without compensation.”
Although Mr. Matheson said the company did not have time to prepare for a presentation to council when a public hearing was held in March, he later said under cross-examination that the company had knowledge of the proposed development through letters.
Municipal planning expert Douglas Foster said after reviewing municipal documents it is his opinion that the Municipality of Chester failed to prepare an existing land-use map which he called “normal” and “standard” planning practice.
He said the municipality did not carry out the intention of the municipal planning strategy and that council should consider all property owners in the area, not just the ones that go to public meetings. Mr. Foster added that Homburg’s property should also be afforded the 1,200-metre setback from the turbine, the same as residential properties.
Testimony continued on Monday where the company and the municipality began defending its decision to enter into a development agreement with Nova Scotia Power Incorporated, Minas Basin Pulp and Power Limited and Oxford Frozen Foods.
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