Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope is calling on the new Minister of Environment and Climate Control, Chris Ballard, to intervene to address water well quality issues in relation to the North Kent 1 wind project.
A copy of the letter the mayor wrote to the minister was released Friday afternoon, a day after blockades were set up at three wind turbine construction sites in Chatham Township by members of Water Wells First after five water wells have shown impacts from nearby pile driving.
Families have come forward after their wells have become clogged with unknown sediments shortly after pile driving began.
The Daily News asked Hope how tough a position this situation puts Chatham-Kent in by being a nearly $8-million investor in North Kent Wind with developers Pattern Energy and Samsung.
“Let’s put it in perspective,” Hope said. “Who has the authority over the Green Energy Act when it comes to this type of (issue)? It’s the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.”
Noting that he has been watching the situation, the mayor said it appears neither side has much trust in what the other is saying, but the governing authority isn’t saying anything.
“Now, I’m saying break the silence and speak up,” Hope said referring to the MOECC.
When asked if what has been happening with area water wells prompted this letter, he noted there is a lot of activity in the area including the wind farm project as well as work being done on the Union Gas panhandle project, which are both bringing in a lot of heavy equipment, causing vibrations.
The letter already generated some interest, Hope said, adding he had already received some calls from the MOECC in Toronto on Friday.
“I’m waiting to see what their response is,” he said, adding it will be shared publicly.
Hope isn’t worried about how some people will perceive the timing of the letter.
“People are entitled to an opinion . . . all I’m hoping is that somehow, some way, there is an answer somewhere,” he said.
“We’ve always been strong advocates on behalf of the citizens and doing the right thing, but we also support innovation and technology in our community,” he added.
Water Wells First has been calling for the mayor’s resignation along with that of chief legal officer John Norton after an e-mail chain was posted on its Facebook page regarding correspondence with Pattern Energy.
The citizen group is upset with the content of an e-mail between Norton and a Pattern Energy executive about publicly releasing information on the preliminary results of a water test taken from a water well that had clogged with sediments while pile driving was going.
Hope said Norton was simply doing what he was asked to do after mayor and council received the information. He noted the proper protocol is to let the mayor and council know, then the wind developer can disseminate that information however they want to the public.
He added since information, which came from the wind developer’s engineering consultant, isn’t owned by Chatham-Kent, the municipality wasn’t about to speak on it.
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