Shelburne town council is tired of feeling “half pregnant” regarding the limbo that is the Dufferin Wind Power project.
According to the Dufferin Wind Power website, local farmers and landowners who are involved in this project are enthusiastic about helping to provide clean energy for future generations, while also contributing to the financial well-being of the Dufferin community.
But not everybody is so enthusiastic. So far, the Town of Shelburne has received little in the way of co-operation from the project’s proponents. And, as was evidenced during a regular scheduled council meeting on Monday, the municipal government is fed up with the lack of attention.
The town has yet to receive project drawings, traffic mitigation plans, or an outline of potential measures to ensure the environment’s protection. The town doesn’t even have a proposed work schedule for the wind farm.
Councillor A.J. Cavey likened the company’s perceived treatment of the town to being “kind of pregnant. You either put the drill in or you didn’t. I don’t want to be half pregnant.”
A delegation of officials involved with the power project weathered volleys when they appeared before council. John Telfer, the town’s chief administrative officer, said it seems town council has been getting mixed messages from the company: They’ve been promised the documentation, but they’ve never materialized.
“There’s a lot going on. Official plans are just being tweaked a bit,” said Chad McAllister, project developer with Longyuan Canada Renewables Ltd. Then, in response to allegations minutes later drilling has already started for the project, McAllister said: “The work done to date has been very minor.”
Scott Wheeldon, Shelburne’s Public Works director, said his department would need anywhere from a few weeks to several months to review the project’s engineering plans and drawings. As such, it was imperative municipal officials received the documents sooner.
“I don’t feel you’re being a very good corporate citizen here,” said Deputy Mayor Bennington.
The town’s priority is to protect Shelburne taxpayers and municipal infrastructure. Wheeldon offered a worrisome scenario: If Public Works responds to reports of drilling fluids having leeched into the municipal water supply, which is a ground water system, “Who do we call, and what plan is there to mediate?”
“There’s a different risk there,” Wheeldon said. “Geology and ground water have a way of doing what it wants.”
Rocky Yao, a biologist with Dillon Consulting, assured town council that all measures are being taken by contractors and sub-contractors to ensure environmental integrity is protected.
It was revealed the town has people frequenting the railbed along which a transmission line will carry electricity from the wind farm. Those people “protecting the town’s interests” have reported drilling taking place every day for a week.
In fact, council heard the company has drilled as much as 300 metres beneath wetland, and the town has yet to received project drawings for the work.
Coun. Cavey asked, if there’s no agreement with the town to do work, how is it work has taken place?
Wheeldon said he’s never in a 20-year career seen a construction project go so far without an engineer’s drawings detailing the work’s scope.
Coun. Walter Benotto asked is fences around a nearby schoolyard were cut as part of the project. With hundreds of children on the schoolyard, one of them could be in danger with dump trucks motoring by every 15 minutes.
McAllister said measures were put in place to ensure school children safety, and he pledged to find out what has happened to them since then.
After a short in-camera private meeting, town council “committed to protect our assets, our people, and our staff,” said Deputy Mayor Bennington.
“If I can’t stop your project, I’m going to make it as miserable as I can for work to continue,” the deputy mayor said, his gaze leveled on the delegation.
The Dufferin Wind Power project proposes to build 49 wind turbines that will have the capacity to generate 91.4 MW of power annually. An average North American household uses about 10,500 kWh of electricity each year.
The Dufferin Wind Farm will span more than 6,000 acres and the project will have the ability to supply enough electricity to power between 22,500 and 30,000 households each year.
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