Wainfleet is facing another lawsuit, this time it’s over $40,000 in funding granted to Skydive Burnaby last month.
The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 31 by the law firm Aird & Berlis LLP on behalf of its client, Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc.
The township was served Tuesday, Jan. 7, and it was raised Wednesday at an Environmental Review Tribunal hearing into Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc.’s five wind turbine renewable energy project.
Aird & Berlis LLP is representing the wind energy company, owned by the Loeffen family and Tom Rankin, CEO of Rankin Construction, at the environmental tribunal hearing, which got underway Monday.
The $40,000 was granted at the December 10 council meeting to help Mike and Tara Pitt, owners of Skydive Burnaby, pay for legal costs related to the tribunal hearing.
Wainfleet has gone on record as being an unwilling host for turbines and has fought against them in the past.
The township was last sued in 2012 by Wainfleet Wind Energy over a bylaw calling for wind turbines to be setback two-kilometres from the nearest residence, instead of 500 metres as set out in provincial legislation. Aird & Berlis represented the wind company at the time, as well.
The court struck down that bylaw in 2013 and the township had to pay Wainfleet Wind Energy nearly $75,000 in court costs.
According to court documents filed with the new lawsuit, the resolution to support the funding was not on the council agenda, and council waived a procedural bylaw to allow Tara Pitt to speak and make an for help appeal that night.
“It is plain and obvious from the wording of the Resolution that the $40,000 authorized to be provided by the Township was to be provided to Skydive Burnaby Ltd., a private business, for the purpose of assisting it with its legal fees related to the REA Appeals,” said the court document filed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in St. Catharines.
The court document said council does not have the power to grant the funds to a private business under a Section 106 of the Municipal Act.
That section says no municipality shall assist directly or indirectly any business through the granting of bonuses, which includes giving or lending any property of the municipality, including money.
“The provision of $40,000 from the Township to Skydive Burnaby Ltd. is an obvious financial benefit,” the court said, adding it is in clear contravention of the municipal act.
The lawsuit seeks to have the council resolution declared without force or effect, that the township recoup any funds already paid to the Pitts and Skydive Burnaby, and that court costs be covered by Wainfleet.
It will come before the court on Thursday, March 6 at 10 a.m. in St. Catharines.
*This story will be updated
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