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PCs pledge to stop Otter Creek wind farm

Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey says if a Progressive Conservative government is elected in June, a controversial wind turbine project slated for the border of Lambton County and Chatham-Kent will be scrapped.

Bailey is concerned that construction of the 12-turbine Otter Creek wind project is near an aquifer that runs in the vicinity of the county border. The Progressive Conservative MPP said the project risks contaminating the water supply for St. Clair Township residents and others who draw their water from private wells in the area.

But if the Tories form the government after June 7, the proposed Otter Creek wind farm won’t be permitted to proceed, said Bailey. He said it’s something party leader Doug Ford has also said publicly.

“That project will be dead, Doug Ford said it,” Bailey said.

“I have great concerns about it.”

Even though the Otter Creek turbines are scheduled to be located in Chatham-Kent, Bailey said there are concerns the industrial turbines will make local water wells unusable in both Chatham-Kent and St. Clair Township when construction begins – because it’s being built on the same Kettle Point black shale geology that has caused problems in other areas of Chatham-Kent.

Water wells in the former Chatham and Dover Townships, south of Wallaceburg, have been challenged with black water and other problems following wind turbine construction.

“(St. Clair Township) thinks it could come as far as four concession roads into the township, so I think they have a very valid point,” Bailey said.

The fact that corporations have already spent a lot of money developing the Otter Creek project, as well as having contracts in place, does not worry Bailey, who is seeking re-election in the Sarnia-Lambton riding. He said the wind companies will have to deal with a new government if they’re elected.

“Rightly or wrongly at the end of the day the government holds all the cards.”

During Question Period on Wednesday, Bailey asked Premier Kathleen Wynne to cancel the Otter Creek project to protect residents’ water wells.

Both the Premier and Environment Minister Chris Ballard both dodged the question, said Bailey.

He also asked the Premier to take the immediate step of adding the protection of private wells to the mandate of the Thames-Sydenham and Region Source Water Protection Committee. Currently, the mandate of regional Source Water Protection Committees, as with the Thames-Sydenham Committee, is to protect municipal sources of water. But the water from private wells is not considered.

The Renewable Energy Approval Application for the Otter Creek project is currently under final technical review by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. It’s anticipated that the technical review will be completed at any time in the next few weeks. Once completed, an REA approval can be issued and construction can begin.

The wind turbines in the Otter Creek wind project are expected to be the tallest wind turbines erected in Canada.

Otter Creek officials said they don’t anticipate much construction in 2018, with most of the Otter Creek wind turbine construction scheduled for 2019.