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Horizon Wind project court action premature, province says

Fort William First Nation was back in court Monday seeking an injunction to stop the province from approving the Horizon Wind farm on the Nor’Wester escarpment in Thunder Bay.

The lawyer for Fort William First Nation told the court that both the crown and the wind company have failed to adequately consult affected First Nations on the project.

Chantelle Bryson said neither party has responded sufficiently to concerns raised by Fort William First Nation.

Bryson said the First Nation felt it had no choice but to go to court to force the government to hold a proper consultation.

In court documents, Horizon Wind says it has tried to consult with the First Nation. The company said the First Nation has, at times, refused to respond or participate.

Further court challenges ahead

Government lawyer Kisha Chatterjee called Fort William’s request for an injunction premature, as the provincial government has yet to make a decision on the wind farm application.

The First Nation should wait before launching a court challenge, she said.

But Bryson said the injunction request is simply an early step in a larger court battle, and it would be a waste of time and court resources to halt the process and then re-launch an injunction at a later date.

Bryson said the facts of the case will not change between now and the time a decision is made.

Fort William First Nation is seeking judicial reviews of several government actions in relation to the project.

It has asked for a review of the Ministry of the Environment’s decision to declare Horizon’s application for a Renewable Energy Approval “complete,” saying Horizon failed to meet its obligations to consult with the First Nation as part of the application process.

It has also taken legal action against the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in an effort to review the lease granted by the city to Horizon Wind.

In addition, the First Nation is challenging several related energy contracts granted to Horizon.

A hearing date for the larger action has not yet been set.

Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau has said in the past she wants the project stopped, as treaty rights have not been respected in the development of the Horizon Wind project.