The Ontario Appeal Court has granted an order to stay construction at Ostrander Point.
A great cheer went up at the announcement Tuesday evening from the crowd gathered to hear naturalist Terry Sprague speak at the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists’ monthly meeting.
“Now, Gilead Power will not be able to destroy any habitat before we can ask for leave to appeal,” said Myrna Wood, PECFN president and leader in the Save Ostrander Point campaign. “We are relieved, as early migration has begun and spring melt is starting to create the conditions needed by all the wildlife at Ostrander Point including Blanding’s turtle.
The order was granted Tuesday, staying February’s decision of the Divisional Court, pending the PECFN’s motions for leave to appeal. In its decision, the Divisional Court overturned an order of the Environmental Review Tribunal that had, in turn, allowed an appeal by the PECFN from a Renewable Energy Approval issued by the Minister of the Environment in relation to the wind turbine project. The order of the ERT stayed the operation of the REA – subject to terms, as related to Blanding’s turtle.
Ostrander Point Wind Energy argued there is insufficient evidence to establish “irreparable” harm to Blanding’s turtle if the stay was not granted. On March 10, counsel for Ostrander had advised counsel for PECFN that Ostrander intended to proceed with construction work that would include staking out limits of the construction; vegetation removal, dealing with unexploded ordinance clearance requirements and road construction, time permitted.
When asked for further details, Ostrander stated “it was not in a position to provide this information”.
On March 12, PECFN delivered its notices of motion for leave to appeal. This motion for a stay followed. Under the terms of the reinstated REA, Ostrander is prohibited from engaging in construction on the wind power site between May and October 15 – the time of year when Blanding’s turtle wanders from the ponds and lives and nests on the terrain.
“Justice Blair’s comments in his decision are particularly interesting. He said that he had no hesitation in granting the stay as “the issues raised on the proposed appeal are issues of broad public implication in the field of environmental law.”
“The Justice went on to point out that ‘Once habitat is destroyed, it is destroyed – for at least short term purposes’. While that comment may seem self evident to the vast numbers of citizens protesting the development plans at Ostrander Point, hearing it from a justice of the Appeal Court is particularly gratifying.”
Wood said the the task ahead is to prepare submissions for leave to appeal the Divisional Court decision. PECFN’s legal arguments are to be filed with the Ontario Court of Appeal on April 11. Gilead Power and the MOE would respond with their legal arguments.
“Judges of the Court of Appeal will take some weeks to decide whether to grant us leave to appeal,” said Wood. “Other organizations will consider whether to apply for intervenor status given the importance of this first appeal of a Renewable Energy approval on environmental issues.”
Meanwhile, fundraising to pay for legal issues continues with $148,358 raised of an estimated $220,000 needed.
A Gala dinner and Art Auction sold out in two weeks – much to the delight of the organizers.
In events to come, supporters are invited to see Mamma Mia and The African Queen for $15 at the Regent Theatre on April 30.
On Saturday May 3, music and sound aficionados have an opportunity to hear Tenor Audio’s 175 S Pre amp with 350M Mono Blocks driving Tetra’s flagship 606 “listening instrument” as it is used in the screening of the Bruce Cockburn documentary “Pacing the Cage” at Active Arts Studio in Rednersville. The evening includes County wine, canapés and sweets – and a performance by the Frere Bothers. Tickets are $50 at www.saveostranderpoint.org
And, on Saturday, May 9, Sandbanks Vacations and Terry Sprague join to provide an intimate and exceptional opportunity to tour the natural areas of the County in a comfortable coach. This is a limited offering – only 12 places are available. The cost for this day long excursion is $100 including a picnic lunch.
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