The developer of a proposed wind turbine project north of County Road 91 hopes for answers in 2015.
WPD Canada’s proposal to erect eight 450-foot-tall wind turbines west of Stayner was presented to the public in 2010.
This past summer, the company reached the point when it could submit a complete application for a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) under the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change’s environmental review process.
However, between then and now, the project has been the subject of considerable controversy, with the township council declaring the municipality an ‘unwilling host’ to the project, and the two neighbouring towns of Collingwood and Wasaga Beach signaling their opposition because of the proximity of the towers to the Collingwood Regional Airport.
Clearview Township mayor Chris Vanderkruys says the project remains an issue for the municipality, but it’s also one that, for the most part, is out of the township’s hands.
“We can keep sending letters [to Queen’s Park], but it seems to be landing on deaf ears,” he said. “They [the provincial government] just don’t seem to be listening to what we really want.”
The proponents of a 260-acre development proposal beside the airport have also presented their concerns to Queen’s Park. Clearview Aviation Commerce Centre could potentially host several aviation-industry tenants.
WPD has refuted concerns about the impact of the towers on the operation of the airport, stating its experts have determined only three per cent of the 12,000 or more aircraft movements at the facility would be affected by the location of the turbines.
There have also been two community protests, as well as a court challenge by a group of neighbours concerned about diminished property values; that challenge was thrown out on the basis it was premature because the project had not been given the green light by the province.
The project initially was posted to the environmental registry this time last year, and was reposted this summer to reflect technical changes, along with a request from the province to prepare a Cultural Heritage Assessment Report. That work has been submitted to the ministry.
WPD spokesperson Kevin Surette said his company’s goal is to get underway with construction sometime in 2015, pending the OK from the MOECC.
“We would prefer a decision sooner rather than later; that being said, we know [the ministry] is thoroughly reviewing the information within our application before making a decision,” he stated in an email.
Surette stated the ministries have asked a few questions during the technical review, to which the company has responded.
The company has also made an application through the Ontario Energy Board in relation to the placement of the collector line within municipal rights-of-way; that process is running concurrently with the REA approval process.
Surette said WPD has attempted to meet with township officials on that issue, with little success.
“Although provincial legislation gives electricity distributors the ability to access public streets or highways to install infrastructure without the approval of the municipality, it’s customary for municipalities and developers to agree upon the location,” he stated. “We’ve attempted to meet with Clearview Township to discuss the issue, but staff has not agreed to meet with us.”
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