April 26, 2016
by Paula Peel, APPEC
By the 7 pm start time Council Chambers were packed full and the adjoining Committee Room was standing room only. Despite the strong show of opposition from members of the community Council approved a Road Users Agreement (RUA) for the White Pines Wind Project. Acting on the advice of County solicitor Wayne Fairbrother, the RUA was approved in a recorded vote of 11 in favour and 4 opposed. In favour: Jamie Forrester, Gordon Fox, Kevin Gale, Steve Graham, Treat Hull, Janice Maynard, Brad Nieman, Roy Pennell, Bill Roberts, Barry Turpin, Jim Dunlop. Opposed: Dianne O’Brien, Lenny Epstein, South Marysburgh Councillor Steve Ferguson and Mayor Robert Quaiff.
Mr. Fairbrother urged Council to approve the RUA, suggesting Council had little choice on this matter. Mr. Fairbrother opined that approval was the only course of action that gave the County some control over the use of its roads and compensation for damage. Mr. Fairbrother also informed Council that time had run out as WPD recently went back to the Ontario Energy Board to restart the process to sidestep the RUA and proceed without municipal approval. He warned that if approval was not given at this Council meeting the opportunity for a RUA would likely be lost for good.
County residents including respected lawyers Garth Manning and Alan Whiteley of CCSAGE-Naturally Green as well as John Hirsch, an appellant in the ERT proceedings, proposed a number of preferable alternatives to entering into a road users agreement with WPD. However Mr. Fairbrother argued that none had merit. Mr. Fairbrother also spoke against proposals from councillors, including a proposal to approve the RUA but to post-date when it would come into effect, a proposal to request an extension from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change in order to take into account the extended ERT hearing and a motion to defer the RUA (defeated in a recorded vote of 11 to 4).
APPEC Chair Gord Gibbins took to the podium to point out the serious issues with laying underground collector and high voltage transmission lines on Maypul Layn Road, a designated heritage landscape. Mr. Fairbrother dismissed those concerns as well, noting that property owners could take up any issues they might have with WPD and that the County would not need to get involved. Apparently the County solicitors’ work is done as long as WPD abides by the terms of the RUA and does not attempt to do any blasting.
Based on our experience with WPD we are concerned about the possible consequences of the County signing on with this firm, which has exhibited such disrespect for the community.
APPEC and John Hirsch continue to fight WPD head on, often on a daily basis with motions, affidavits and evidence, most recently to stop WPD from clearing vegetation at its proposed project site. APPEC and its supporters to Save the South Shore are fighting through the Environmental Review Tribunal and the Courts to stop this ill-conceived project from being constructed. Your continued support is essential to continue this fight and to our ultimate victory.