Dufferin County will return to the negotiating table with Dufferin Wind Power Inc. in hopes of avoiding expropriation.
On Thursday (Jan. 23), county council directed staff to continue negotiations to finalize an agreement to grant an easement along the county-owned rail corridor. The agreement will be presented to county council at their Feb. 13 meeting.
“It is different from what we’ve been doing,” said county Warden Bill Hill. “But when every avenue we’ve explored – and everyone else has explored – has been ignored and shut down by the province, the only option left for the county was to be faced with expropriation.”
According to the motion, Dufferin County has an opportunity to receive additional compensation and improved terms from Dufferin Wind over what would be granted through expropriation.
The warden explained the county was presented with a new offer from Dufferin Wind.
“There was a meeting with Dufferin Wind,” Hill said, adding details are not publicly available yet. “When the (Feb. 13) agenda is put out, you’ll see what has been negotiated, vs. what will be rammed down our throat by the energy board.”
Dufferin Wind spokesperson Connie Roberts said the company is pleased the county is returning to the negotiating table.
“Until an agreement is reached however, DWPI must continue to pursue expropriation to ensure the project is not delayed,” Roberts said in an email to The Banner. “This being said, everyone with Dufferin Wind is feeling optimistic that a positive outcome will allow DWPI to cease expropriation proceedings after the February 13th Dufferin County Council meeting.”
The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has approved a leave to construct application from Dufferin Wind to build a 230 kV transmission line from Melancthon to the Orangeville transmission station in Amaranth.
The line will be above ground with the exception of sections in Shelburne and near the south end of the line.
Dufferin Wind has filed an application to expropriate the lands needed for the line. Approval of that application is immanent, according to the recent county motion.
“It’s not a matter of if this is going to go ahead or not. It’s a matter of what are the terms of it going ahead,” Hill said. “We have a gun to our head that says this deal is going ahead.”
The county has made multiple requests to Dufferin Wind, the Ontario Energy Board and various levels of government requesting the transmission line be buried along the rail corridor. Their requests have not been met with success.
“This is not a democracy, it’s disgusting,” Hill said. “When you look at every municipality and the county pleading with the premier to do something different, and you get absolutely ignored.”
Hill said he isn’t sure how his constituents will react to the renewed negotiations with the wind power company.
“It’s hard to say what the majority of people will say,” he said. “We’re charged with a responsibility to do what we believe is the right thing for the residents of Dufferin County as it relates to this particular transaction.”
Dennis Sanford, president of Melancthon Wind Resistance, has asked the county to suspend negotiations with Dufferin Wind until an appeal is heard regarding a recent Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) decision.
In December the ERT ruled Dufferin Wind’s transmission line does not pose a risk to human health. Sanford’s lawyer, Eric Gillespie, filed an appeal of the decision on Jan. 22.
“We believe we have a good chance of overturning the ERT’s decision in the Divisional Court,” Sanford said in his letter to the county.
Although Sanford has field an appeal, he said he understands the county’s stance.
“They want to avoid more costs to the taxpayers. They’re working with a budget and they have to fit it in,” Sanford said. “On the other hand, they could be losing a decent settlement from Dufferin Wind.”
Sanford said he would rather see the county fight expropriation.
“I like to stand on principle and stand your ground,” Sanford said. “They are giving in a bit.”
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