November 3, 2015

Wind farm rejected

By Carl Clutchey, CJ staff | The Chronicle Journal | November 3, 2015 |

Fort William First Nation Chief Peter Collins is happy with a provincial decision to decline a Toronto company’s application to build a wind farm on the Nor’Westers escarpment because of concerns about how the project would impact moose.

“It’s what we’ve been saying all along,” Collins said Monday.

In a decision released by letter Thursday to Horizon Wind Inc., the Ministry of Environment found that the company’s proposal for 16 turbines did not provide “certain specific information in response to the ministry’s detailed inquiries on the potential impacts on moose and moose habitat.”

The ministry said it needed that information to address concerns “that the potential impacts on moose, moose habitat and the traditional moose-hunting practices of member of Fort William First Nation had been adequately assessed and mitigated.”

Collins said that among other things, the First Nation hunters felt that a proposed requirement to stay about three kilometres away from the turbines was too restrictive.

Horizon Wind, which could not be reached for comment Monday, has until Nov. 16 to decide whether it will the appeal the ministry’s decision to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal.

Collins said the band has no plans to build its own wind farm.

Horizon Wind has been trying to develop the $50-million, 32-megawatt Thunder Bay Wind Park for several years.

Horizon had argued that moose wouldn’t have been negatively affected by the turbines because the animals would benefit by having additional pathways to browse for food.

Just prior to the 2011 provincial election, the turbines were seen as a potential threat to peregrine falcons. The province later declared that falcons were no longer considered an endangered species.

Opponents to the wind farm have included Natural Resources and Forestry Minister Bill Mauro, and Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs.

Hobbs said Monday he couldn’t comment until he had received “a legal update.”

The project’s supporters included Thunder Bay Coun. Rebecca Johnson.

It was to be built on 7,000 hectares of land owned by the city, in the Municipality of Neebing.

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