EASTERN KINGS, P.E.I. – Going into the evening’s meeting, Danelle Elliott had no idea what her council’s final decision was going to be.
“It was a big application for a small community like ours,” said the deputy mayor of Eastern Kings. “Honestly, it’s been very stressful and I’m glad it’s done.”
The decision was whether or not to grant P.E.I. Energy Corporation (PEIEC) a special development permit to add seven turbines to its existing wind farm in the area. The province gave PEIEC a conditional approval this September, but the final decision rested with the Rural Municipality of Eastern Kings.
After almost two years of consideration, as well as opposition from residents during public presentations, council ultimately voted 3-1 against the application during a special meeting at Eastern Kings Community Centre on Oct. 22.
The main concerns raised were about the environment, Elliott said.
“That the construction might affect what we currently have here.”
The area PEIEC had proposed for development featured about 14 hectares of forested land – all of which would be cut down for the expansion. One of the province’s conditions for approval was that another 42 ha of land be purchased and preserved to mitigate the environmental impact.
Coun. David Stewart said part of the land that would have been cut down is old-growth forest.
“I don’t believe planting a new forest in another area is going to make up for what’s lost.”
Eastern Kings’ official plan notes that council must strive to protect its major attractions, which Stewart believes include the area’s forests as well as its migratory bird population.
The plan was often referenced as it emphasizes the municipality’s responsibility around environmental preservation and wind turbine regulation.
“I don’t believe that this has been met by this proposal,” said Coun. Bradley MacDonald. “(So) I think it’s in the best interest of our community not to be in favour of this.”
A few councillors noted that the most appealing part of the development was the potential financial impact on Eastern Kings. However, Coun. Anne McPhee was skeptical it would be in the form of job creation or tourism spinoff, she said.
“I am not anti-wind turbine,” McPhee said. “I’m just not in favour of this proposal in that location.”
Once the decision was officially made, the 40 to 50 residents who were in attendance broke into applause. Mayor Grace Cameron, who didn’t partake in discussions on the application due to a conflict of interest, commended council for how it handled the process.
As for what happens next, Elliott hopes council can focus more of its time on other matters, but PEIEC still has options they may explore, she said.
“I don’t know whether they’ll appeal or not.”
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