LINDSAY – Judging by the attendance at a preliminary hearing, there may be far fewer people at the appeal of a second wind energy project in Manvers Township next month.
On Monday (Aug. 10) a handful of people showed up to learn who would be granted status at an appeal conducted by the Environmental Revew Tribunal, a far cry from what took place in Pontypool earlier this year.
The hearing was held at City Hall on Monday so that the Tribunal, chaired by Marcia Valiente, could determine requests from groups and individuals for Party, Participant or Presenter status.
The hearing would also identify the issues to be considered; and to deal with any preliminary matters.
There are certain criteria to be met for status. For example, participants may be witnesses, including experts, and have a more active role in the proceedings. Presenters are usually residents and property owners concerned with the effect of a megawatt wind energy project built near their homes.
Those requesting participant status included Save the Oak Ridges Moraine (STORM), the City and Kathleen Morton, who has a degree in anthropology from Trent University and is concerned about the disturbance of possible First Nations burial sites in the area.
Lawyers for the Director (Ministry of Environment), the approval holders (Snowy Ridge Wind Park) and the City of Kawartha Lakes were present.
The Province granted Snowy Ridge’s approval in June, which sparked an immediate appeal, similar to when three groups appealed the Sumac Ridge wind farm (a separate company) two years ago.
Sumac Ridge proposed five megawatt turbines to be built near Pontypool, two on the Oak Ridges Moraine, which led to the legal challenge.
Manvers Wind Concerns, a group opposing wind projects in Manvers, and the other appellants in that case are still waiting for the decision from a ministerial review after losing the appeal earlier this year.
Several of those who took part in the Sumac Ridge battle were present on Monday, including Ward 16 Coun. Heather Stauble and Manvers Wind Concerns chair Paul Reid.
Snowy Ridge also proposes to build five large turbines near Bethany.
Ms Morton was the only applicant who drew objections from counsel for both the Province and the approval holders, with lawyers expressing concerns her objections were “beyond the scope” of the criteria for the Review. That criteria specifically relates to the possible negative harms to human health and the environment posed by wind farms.
Ms Morton said there could easily be historic anthropological sites in the area such as sacred First Nations burial grounds that could be destroyed if a wind farm was built. But, she said the Aboriginal concerns were never addressed. She also alleged there were “inconsistencies and errors” in the studies conducted by the wind energy company.
Lawyers for the Province made it clear they were not denying the importance of Ms Morton’s concerns, but argued the issue is not part of the scope of the Tribunal’s jurisdiction.
City solicitor Robyn Carlson raised an interesting point when she noted the conditions laid out in the Province’s Renewable Energy Approval (REA) do not offer the City any control over whether those conditions are being met properly. She said the City has no control over renewable energy projects as it does with other development; that the Province requires no securities, such as what happens if a renewable energy company goes bankrupt. She said the way REAs are set out, the City loses its ability “to ensure the proposal goes forward as it should.”
Mr. Reid later told This Week applying for approval for wind energy projects is different than it was last year. Now, he said, the Province only approves a certain number of wind and solar companies as “vendors” who can apply for large renewable energy projects.
In the case of wind farms, he explained, the Province puts out a specific number of megawatts for large renewable energy projects each year, for which several companies may bid through a Request for Proposal process.
They accumulate points toward those contracts.
“Municipalities don’t have a say,” Mr. Reid said. “But, if a wind company doesn’t get the support of the municipality and the neighbours, they don’t get as many points, which lessens the chance of getting project approval from the Province.
“So, if they don’t get those points, communities who don’t want them could send them packing, because wind companies who get municipal and community support stand a better chance of getting approvals.”
The ERT hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 8 starting at 10 a.m. at the Janetville Community Centre.
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