The Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) has dismissed Green Party candidate Karren Wallace’s request for a hearing regarding the Amendment to REA No. 5460-98BPH8 held by Dufferin Wind Power Inc.
The dismissal decision by the ERT panel of Justin Duncan and Dirk Vanderbent said such an appeal “must relate to the Project design changes which the Director has approved. The Tribunal does not have the jurisdiction to consider, in this proceeding, other approvals, orders or decisions made by the MOE.”
The Environmental Review Tribunal is an independent body that hears public appeals including the Environmental Protection Act. Proceedings December 2nd were to confirm procedural directions for the main hearing that was to have been held in the coming year, but has now been dismissed.
Opposing Ms. Wallace were DWPI lawyers John Terry and Denis Mahony and Sylvia Davies was the lawyer for the Director of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Control (MOECC).
Ms. Wallace said that from the outset the environmental review process was “heavily weighted against the average citizen,” and expressed her gratitude to Melancthon residents “who single-handedly kept pursuing the penta issue for months and months with the MOECC until they finally admitted there was in fact a problem.”
“The request filed by DWP (at the preliminary hearing in Shelburne, December 2nd) was for them to be excused from having to go to a public hearing because they were doing minor variations from what was originally approved at a public hearing last December,” Ms. Wallace said.
“This was a condition of their original approval; any major changes must go through a public process. So my question is why file for an exemption for a minor variation, but a major deviation like remediating 316 penta treated poles did not go through a hearing and a public process? Instead it was left up to a bureaucrat and DWP to decide how to fix the mess. The fact DWP and the MOECC won’t release the remediation plan is extremely concerning.”
Residents of Melancthon Township, her home turf, have grave concerns about the safety of the chemically treated poles when it comes to their drinking water. They are looking for assurance from the MOECC that the penta chemicals will not leach into source water, and that deep bore holes, that penetrate the bedrock, will not act as conduits for groundwater runoff containing fertilizers and other containments.
David Thwaites, a Melancthon resident and retired litigator, has supported Ms. Wallace and his neighbours in their concerns and voiced his own to Gary Tomlinson of the Guelph office of the MOECC in a December 8 letter, after bearing witness to the preliminary hearing: “I am aware that Dufferin Wind Power has professed an interest in transparency but refused to mediate the concerns raised in the existing appeal and has furthered that block to transparency by bringing a motion before the Tribunal that might totally close the door to any disclosure.”
Mr. Thwaites was right; the door was closed. He says that from his perspective “the MOE has simply facilitated and condoned the approach of DWP rather than fulfill its mandate owed to the citizens of Ontario.”
Mr. Thwaites, a newcomer to politics, lost his bid for Mayor of Melancthon in the recent municipal election to the former Deputy Mayor Darren White, but like Ms. Wallace, continues to step up to speak for the citizens of his Township.
“The MOE apparently has its own timetable and perspective which has and does differ from those of many in Melancthon as to issues that arise from wind projects,” he said.
Ms. Wallace says she will carry on her fight to protect Dufferin County source water from possible contamination by DWP transmission poles despite the dismissal, “I am however going to continue using a different tactic.”
Referring to the successful campaigns by the North Dufferin Area Community Taskforce (NDACT) against the planned Melancthon mega-dump and opponents to Simcoe County’s plan for a large landfill, she declared: “I am taking my cue from NDACT and Site 41. They never gave up.”
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