Manvers Wind Concerns members have circled Oct. 3 on their calendars.
That’s when those opposed to wind turbines in the south end of the City of Kawartha Lakes hope to learn the dates of hearings that will decide how the five-turbine Sumac Ridge wind farm in the Bethany area, southwest of Peterborough, will proceed.
The motions day in Toronto on Oct. 3, called “big motion day” by group member and Omemee-area resident Paul Reid, could lead to hearing dates to be held in Lindsay.
“Things are still up in the air,” Reid said.
Already a Ministry of the Environment-approved project, Sumac Ridge can now only be cancelled by an Environmental Review Tribunal, the appeals process set to take place, or a judicial review. The last tribunal-related session, which included project developer WPD, took place Sept. 4.
The Lindsay hearings are an opportunity for opponents to make their case. A key part of the MWC argument is that the 10.25-megawatt project southeast of the intersection of Hwy. 7A and Hwy. 35 would cause “irreparable change” to the Oak Ridges Moraine.
“We have been trying to stop the project by forcing them to follow their own rules,” Reid said, referring to issues such as setbacks.
The ministry approved the project last December. In doing so it responded to concerns about noise, health and the environment. It stated that the project would satisfy the requirements for setbacks – distances between the turbines and receptors, such as homes, schools and workplaces.
The Ontario chief medical officer of health has reported that scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects, the ministry states in its decision.
Tribunal meetings were first held in Lindsay in February, where the process of establishing hearing dates began.
Problems arose with two of the planned turbines, Reid said. One has to do with the Peterborough Airport and the other with an easement next to a water source.
Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro sounded the alarm earlier this year after learning one of the turbines could restrict the type of landing approaches allowed at the airport.
A wind farm proposed for neighbouring Cavan, Stoneboat Community Wind Farm, was cancelled earlier this year after two out of three land owners who had signed preliminary leases pulled out based on negative public reaction.
The project would have overlooked Devil’s Elbow ski resort and jeopardized plans for the Cham Sham Temple, a multi-million dollar Buddhist retreat.
Two other projects proposed for the southern City of Kawartha Lakes, Snowy Ridge and Settlers Landing, both remain in the public comment stage.
Sumac Ridge remains the group’s main focus, Reid said, noting more than 3,000 public comments about the project have been received on the environmental registry.
“If we lose, most people feel the war is over,” he said, noting no projects have been denied based on public comment. “There is nowhere else to go.”
In 2015, it is expected more capacity will be awarded to the wind industry, meaning more projects could be proposed in the area. However, the process is expected to be more transparent, Reid noted, adding landowners won’t be able to lease property “behind their neighbours backs.”
Reid asked citizens to make sure municipal election candidates are clear in their stance on the issue. In fact, the group recently sent a questionnaire to each of them via email.
City of Kawartha Lakes Ward 16 Coun. Heather Stauble, who has been active in the issue, said the ministry circumvented several pieces of legislation, such as the Migratory Birds, Species At Risk and Clean Water acts. Stormwater and spills management plans, normally required, do not need to be completed until afterwards, she said.
“These are all things that are completely standard in any kind of development. And they are not making them do it,” she said, noting she plans to remain active with the issue as she seeks re-election.
Reid also asked people to contribute to the Manvers Wind Concerns legal fund. “People of the City of Kawartha Lakes have to decide, what do you want the place to look like?”
Supporter and Cavan art gallery Galerie Q is hosting a barbecue and music event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 25 at the corner of County Rd. 10 and Hwy. 7A with all proceeds going to Manvers Wind Concerns.
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