Residents of Amherst Island and members of the Association to Protect Amherst Island (APAI) continue fighting to prove that the proposed 26 turbine Windlectric Inc. project is harmful to the island in terms of both health and environmental concerns.
On Aug. 24, the project was given approval from Ontario’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), but the fight, which has been going on since 2011, is nowhere near over for APAI.
“We are moving towards the preliminary hearing for our appeal to the Environmental Review Tribunal,” explained Deborah Barrett, a member of the strategic planning group for APAI. “Right now, we are ensuring that all of our documents are in order and the witness statements are presented to the tribunal in a very professional way.”
The preliminary hearing will take place on Oct. 15 at 11 a.m. at St. John’s Hall in Bath and is essentially administrative. The hearing will work to hear and determine requests from groups and individuals for Party, Participant or Presenter status; to identify the issues to be considered at the main hearing; and deal with any preliminary matters that may be raised by Parties, Participants and Presenters. As always, APAI is hoping for a positive outcome.
“Our hope has always been that the director’s approval will be revoked,” said Barrett. “We believe that there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate to the tribunal that there will be serious harm to health and there will be irreversible harm to the environment.”
Asha James from Falconers LLP will represent the Association as they move towards the official hearing on the matter, which will begin on Nov. 12.
APAI is primarily concerned with the migratory paths of birds and bats that will be obstructed by the turbines. The group is also concerned about the size of the proposed 50 story turbines and the safety and health of residents on the island.
“There is a cement plant planned next to a school and there are many species at risk on the island itself,” said Barrett. “Our goal is to show the tribunal that this is simply the wrong place for these turbines.”
Members of APAI remain optimistic about the appeal and they are grateful for the tremendous support that has come from the community throughout this process.
“We are fast approaching our goal of $200,000 and when you consider that there are only about 400 people on the island that is a big commitment,” said Barrett. “It really shows the spirit in the community and what a wonderful place it is and how important it is to preserve our heritage, both cultural and natural.”
The next steps for APAI depend on how the appeal hearing goes, but the group is also exploring other legal and political options at this time.
“We are investigating other legal options like a judicial review and we are working hard behind the scenes to continue influencing politicians and people who have authority on these matters,” said Barrett. “Right now through, we will have to wait and see what the tribunal decides and take it from there.”
For more information about the project visit www.protectamherstisland.ca
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