MANVERS TWP – A group opposing the Snowy Ridge industrial wind turbine project in Manvers Township is concerned the developer is preparing to build the turbines in spite of an appeal of the decision allowing them to do so.
But, City of Kawartha Lakes Mayor Andy Letham confirmed on Wednesday (Feb. 3) that the City had no choice but to issue building permits for both Snowy Ridge and Settlers Landing wind farms in compliance with the Building Code Act.
Both are being developed by Capstone Infrastructure.
Paul Reid of Manvers Wind Concerns (MWC), a group fighting three industrial wind energy projects in Manvers Township, says Capstone Infrastructure appears to be going ahead with construction of five turbines.
“We have notified our legal counsel and have asked them to get clarification from Capstone, given that our appeal for Ministerial Review contains a request for a Stay and the [Kawartha Region] Conservation Authority has deferred issuing permits pending the outcome of the Ministerial Review.” he said in an email.
Although no actual construction has started, there is equipment parked at the Snowy Ridge site west of Bethany.
Ron Awde, director of SR Opposition Corp., the group legally challenging the Snowy Ridge project, also confirmed Monday (Feb. 1) that Capstone had “brought building materials to the site of the transformer and have begun moving heavy equipment to the site of the service road for turbines 3,4 and 5.”
Mr. Awde noted Capstone “does have their building permit from the City for the foundations of the transformer. They only lack permits from Kawartha Region Conservation Authority (KRCA) for work in regulated areas.”
There are three wind energy projects proposed in Manvers Township; wpd Canada’s Sumac Ridge and Capstone’s Snowy Ridge and Settlers Landing would see 15 mega-turbines built near Bethany and Pontypool.
All three went through the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) process over the last three years after opposing residents banded together to challenge the approvals issued by the Province.
While the Tribunal did not find in favour of the appellants, they continue to fight, appealing directly to the Minister for a review. They are awaiting the results of a Review for Sumac Ridge and are asking for Reviews of both the Snowy Ridge and Settler’s Landing projects.
The primary objections are the affect of industrial wind turbines on human health, the environment (including flora and fauna) and the area’s water sources, especially on the provincially-protected Oak Ridges Moraine.
Mr. Awde provided an update via email, noting the group’s lawyers submitted an Appeal to the Minister on Jan. 21. SR Opposition Corp. also provided the appeal to the Conservation Authority who were reviewing the application for permits by Capstone.
“We made the request of the Conservation Authority that pending the Minister’s decision on the Appeal, no permits be issued for work in the regulated areas, since requests have been made, that in the case where the Approval is not rescinded in whole, specific components of the project be relocated off the Moraine or away from hydrologically sensitive areas,” he said.
He added that at their meeting on Jan. 27 the KRCA board voted to defer the review of the staff report and the issuance of permits for construction until the Appeal is heard and decided.
“We have requested a stay of construction until the Appeal is heard, and a decision rendered, and so do not anticipate that any construction should commence, although some equipment has been parked on the site of the transformer,” Mr. Awde wrote. “Should any construction commence, we will of course move to have it stopped as quickly as possible.”
Sumac Ridge, the project planned for south of Bethany, which is also undergoing a Ministerial Review “is still stalled”, he said.
“Despite aggressive objections by the Approval Holder (wpd Canada) and MOECC, the Province’s Privacy Commissioner has ordered the release of documents regarding the Sumac Ridge project. While the documents have not yet been turned over, we are all waiting anxiously to see [them].”
Mr. Awde said the battle to keep the turbines out of Manvers is a series of small victories.
“While it may not seem like it on some days, every battle so far has been a victory to some degree….Sumac Ridge is still stalled, Capstone is scrambling to solve their problem at Settler’s Landing and, with Snowy Ridge, we have had the opportunity to move issues of broader public interest all the way forward to an Appeal to the Minister…. and the only way we got to do this was by going through the entire ERT process.”
The group continues to ask for financial support for legal expenses.
In response to This Week’s inquiry, the City issued a press release in which Mayor Letham explained the rationale behind issuing the building permits.
“It is important for the public to understand we are legally required to issue the building permits once all of the Building Code Act requirements have been met,” he said. “In this particular instance, Capstone Infrastructure, the proponent behind these two wind projects, has met all of the legal requirements stipulated by the Act.”
He clarified that even though an appeal for a Ministerial Review is still ongoing, the City is required by law to issue the permits under the Act.
The mayor also explained why the permits had to be issued even though council (past and present) have never supported industrial wind energy projects in the municipality. Not only that, the City provided staff’s expertise during the ERT hearings, with several testifying as expert witnesses.
“Issuing these permits is not an endorsement of the project or reflective of Council’s position,” said Mayor Letham. “It is simply reflective of the municipality meeting its legal obligations.”
Staff also noted that “at this time the permits are still valid, as the appeal process is still ongoing, and the applicants may proceed with construction, however it would be at their own risk should the ultimate outcome of the process be a revocation of any portion/all of the REA (the provincial approval).”
Mr. Awde said financial contributions toward legal expenses are still needed and welcomed.
“Thanks to the incredibly hard work of our legal team, we were able to submit a comprehensive well researched appeal to the Minister.”
You can send cheques to SR Opposition Corp., c/o PO Box 142 Bethany, ON, L0A 1A0.
Anyone wishing more information is welcome to contact Mr. Awde at 705-277-9490 (days) or 277-9618 (evgs) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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