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Opposing sides to Brinston wind farm address South Dundas Council

WILLIAMSBURG – South Dundas council had the opportunity to hear from opposing sides of the South Branch Wind farm project at last council meeting held June 18. EDP Renewables representatives Brian Brown and Ken Little advised council of the progress they have been making and Leslie Disheau of the South Branch Opposition Group had the opportunity to express her views on the project.

Little said they have completed six milestones since the last advisory meeting in February.

“One of the biggest things that has happened is we now have H B White Canada as our interviewing, procurement and construction contractors,” said Little, “They are overseeing all of our sub-contractors and doing some of the construction work themselves. They are now mobilizing the management team and doing some activity like survey work.”

Little added that they have not yet moved any earth and all the work being done now is preliminary.

The turbine supplier has also been chosen.

“It’s official that we will be using Seimens as our wind turbine supplier,” said Little, added the turbines are 3 megawatt, stand 99.5 meters with an arm span of 113 meters.

“We are still working through the renewable energy approval with the Ministry of the Environment,” he said, “We have been told that approval is imminent. We’re hoping that gets issued and posted with the environmental registry.” Little added that they also had to notify all levels of local governments and residents.

“We are also working through the road users agreement,” said Little, “This is something we have been in discussion with South Dundas and SD&G for about a year, and starting to talk with North Dundas as well.” Little said they had to determine the overall agreement of how the roads would be upgraded or fixed if needed throughout the lifetime of the project.

Little said they were also working through the Endangered Species Act with the Ministry of Natural Resources.

“Specifically we are looking at the habitat for the bob-o-link,” said Little, “We’re hoping to have that finished up in the next few weeks.”

Little said they were also working through other permits with South Nation Conservation, building permits with South Dundas and other permits that will be required.

Little also announced a proposed public meeting before construction kicks off to be held July 17 at Matilda Hall.

Leslie Disheau asked council to consider a resolution to place a moratorium on the project until an independent study on the health effects of wind turbines on humans, animals and wildlife and the effects on property values can be done. The resolution also asks that the province and the Ministry of the Environment be notified that South Dundas is not a willing host for IWTs.

However, rather than pass the resolution that night, Disheau requested that a meeting take place to further discuss the resolution and the SBWOGs opposition to the wind farm.

“There are specific areas of concern which cannot be addressed tonight but need to be addressed and information shared so council will be in a more informed position to properly deal with this resolution,” said Disheau.

“I do understand that this council is under the belief that because the GEA has stripped you of your municipal powers you feel your hands are tied and that because this project is so far along with a FIT contract that there is nothing you can do. Well I’m here tonight to inform you that you still do have municipal powers and to dispel some of the myths around the SB wind project,” she said. The first myth was that council’s hands are tied, however Disheau noted that several councils across Ontario are using legal framework for action to be used in regulating wind projects.

The second myth surrounds the monetary aspect of the wind farm. Disheau said the idea was out there that a lot of money has been spent already on the project making it impossible to back out.

“As far as we can determine there has been no private individual spending their own dollars on this project. And, as far as taxpayers know, we don’t think the municipality has spent any dollars on this project either,” said Disheau, “The only money that has been spent is that of the wind developers. Big businesses spend dollars everyday and assume the risks involved when dealing with their projects.”

Disheau noted that the third myth was that it is a done deal, however she pointed out that as of June 14 the Renewable Energy Approval website claimed the project is still under technical review and there is still time for council to register as “Not a Willing Host” along with 50 out of the 90 municipalities in Ontario.

The last myth was that there was no negative impact on the community.

“The Superior Court of Ontario ruled earlier this year in May, that yes, receptors could bring civil litigation suits against landowners once a wind project receives final REA approval, because the evidence showed a decrease in value of property anywhere from 22 to 50 per cent,” she said, “I am not prepared to sit back and have the actions of someone else reduce my property value by up to 50 per cent because they wish to pursue the cash flow of green energy dollars.”

Disheau then formally asked council to consider a meeting to further discuss all the implications and possible avenues of protest for the South Branch Wind Farm.

Council felt that it was a lot of information to process and agreed to a meeting which will be held at a date yet to be determined.