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Court backs province over municipality in wind turbine battle

Project developers running into flak from municipalities will be heartened by a recent Ontario Divisional Court decision invalidating a resolution that brought a provincially approved wind turbine project to a halt.

Wpd Sumac Ridge Wind Inc. had received a renewable energy approval from the provincial government allowing it to construct five wind turbines in the City of Kawartha Lakes. The company couldn’t do the work, however, without accessing and upgrading certain municipal roads.

Despite the approvals from the Province, the City opposed the project. Council passed a resolution that denied Sumac access to its roads for the purpose of advancing it. The move effectively killed the project.

Sumac sought relief from the Divisional Court, which quashed the resolution.

As the court saw it, the Municipality did not have the right to frustrate the renewable energy approval. Generally speaking, the court explained, municipal action that frustrates a legal provincial directive was void as an exercise of municipal power in bad faith.

The court ordered Kawartha to enter into good faith negotiations with Sumac aimed at the project’s completion.

According to Stikeman Elliott’s Canadian Energy Law blog, the decision “demonstrates the limit of municipal authority in dealing with projects under provincial or federal jurisdiction.”