A popular lakeside park in Loyalist Township will need to be converted to industrial land for a wind energy project to go ahead, according to a rezoning application to the provincial government.
Invista’s property along Bath Road is to be used by Algonquin Power subsidiary Windlectric Inc. as a marshalling yard for its Amherst Island wind energy project.
The Invista property on the south side of Bath Road, however, is zoned for parkland, but the company applied to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to have the Certificate of Property Use (CPU) changed to temporarily allow industrial use of the park.
The public has until March 2 to provide comment.
The land is to be used for the laying of underground cable to transmit electricity to a switch station and the use of an existing access road to transport materials to and from a temporary mainland dock.
According to a notice published Tuesday on the Ontario government’s Environmental Registry website, the rezoning is “a necessary step” to keep the wind energy project going.
“Put another way, the project cannot proceed without the proposed amendment to the CPU,” the notice stated.
“If they don’t have this, they can’t build the project? Now they are basing the whole project on the mainland dock?” asked Michele Le Lay, president of the Association to Protect Amherst Island (APAI), the group opposing the project.
“It seems that they started too early, they don’t have a good plan, they don’t have good measures, they still are lacking permits,” Le Lay said.
“Right now this land is used by people in Loyalist Township, to walk their dogs, it’s a park and there is a boat launch. We’ve been saying all along that they don’t have the permits.”
Le Lay said she is concerned that excavation on the land may disturb contaminents in the soil left over from previous industrial use.
The application to have the park rezoned for industrial use, and the apparent do-or-die need for that change, offered association supporters a sliver of hope on the same day the group was dealt a defeat in court.
On Tuesday, a divisional court in Kingston dismissed the association’s appeal of last year’s Environmental Review Tribunal ruling that dismissed the group’s appeal of the project’s 2015 conditional approval.
“It’s not the end of the road. We’re not done,” Le Lay said. “Our first reaction is we’re sad and disappointed. The next day we’re up, dusting off the dirt and we are back.”
The association is also awaiting a response to an appeal to Catherine McKenna, the federal environment and climate change minister, to launch a federal environmental assessment of the cumulative impact of wind energy projects on Lake Ontario on the Atlantic migratory flyway and to examine if the projects comply with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Last month, McKenna turned down a similar request from Sen. Bob Runciman.
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