The company building a wind energy project on Amherst Island has been issued a stop-work order by Loyalist Township.
The order was issued last weekend and was confirmed again in a letter from the township to Windlectric Inc. on Thursday.
Heavy construction vehicles had caused significant damage to haul routes, including deep ruts on South Shore Road, Lower Forty Foot Road and sections of Front Road.
“The ruts from the previous night’s heavy traffic had in fact not been smoothed out by the Windlectric grading crew, and the road surface was a continuous series of deep ruts, which had frozen hard,” township chief administrative officer Robert Maddocks wrote in a letter to Windelectic on Thursday. “These ruts were several inches deep and would be very difficult, if not completely impossible, for a smaller car to pass without significant damage, and potentially a serious safety issue if someone hit them at normal speeds.”
The road use agreement between the company and the municipality allows the township engineer to stop work if damage to the roads leaves them unsafe for the general public to travel upon. The order can be lifted once the roadways are repaired.
“The Township has a legal and moral duty to protect the public and must act accordingly,” Maddocks wrote.
In a response to the municipal action, Homer Lensink, vice-president of development for Windlectric’s parent company Algonquin Power, said the company “respectfully but strongly disagrees with this instruction.”
“The Road Use Agreement and the Operations Plan only allow the Municipal Engineer to stop work in the event of immediate danger to life and health, and public safety. This is clearly not the case today,” he wrote in a letter on Feb. 17.
Lensink wrote that the company has repaired roads damaged by the construction vehicles and the township’s stop-work order came just before forecast heavy rain and unseasonably mild temperatures.
“As you know, we are at a critical stage of the construction progress and any delays to the project construction have a cascading effect,” he wrote.
“Windlectric objects to the stopping work order days in advance of a forecasted rain event whose impact cannot be predicted nor quantified.
“Stopping this work days in advance of an unknown rain event’s impact is completely arbitrary, directly impacting the project schedule,” he added.
Maddocks’ reply Thursday accused the company of being more interested in the project’s construction schedule rather than its impact on the island’s roads.
“The comments in your letter continue to demonstrate that Windlectric is concerned with timing regardless of the impact on island residents,” Maddocks wrote. “Your comments are inaccurate and offensive based on the observations of February 17. It is unfortunate that the corporate head office is not better informed of the actual conditions on site.”
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