May 7 at the ERT

Report on May 7th ERT Hearing
by
Henri Garand

The ERT heard the concluding testimonies of two Gilead Power witnesses: Steve Brown, Stantec consultant on hydrology, and Jessica Linton, a consultant on butterflies.

Cross-examination of Steve Brown
Mr. Brown told PECFN lawyer Natalie Smith that the design goal of Stantec’s hydrological consulting is to maintain the existing drainage at Ostrander Point, and the monitoring goal is to maintain the quantity and quality of the water.  He has not previously worked on an alvar site, though he had considered similar factors when evaluating four locations for a police patrol station (2-3 ha in size) on Hwy 69.

He said the hydrology work is ongoing.  Both the Construction Environmental Management Plan and the post-construction Environmental Effects Monitoring Plan are in preparation.

Re-examination
In reply to questions by Gilead Power lawyer Sam Rogers, Mr. Brown explained that the continuing work is to refine elements already laid out in the plans.

ERT Panel Questions
Co-chair Heather Gibbs asked for a map of the existing roads and trails since Mr. Brown had said these would be overlaid by the access roads.  Mr. Brown said the information was in his notes but not on a map.

Ms. Gibbs noted that Stantec’s reports deal with the water courses on the site.  Mr. Brown said that the Renewable Energy Approval process required only such information.  Still to come is the study on surface water flow.

Co-chair Robert Wright asked about hydrologic inspections of water flow.  Mr. Brown said that spring and fall visits along the roads would make comparisons with current conditions.  The access road will consist essentially of crushed gravel lying in a trench, with the top of the road at grade surface level.  If the access road area dries out prematurely, a search would be made for a water conduit and it would be blocked.  If the area remains atypically wet, a culvert would be cleaned out or a new one installed.

Mr. Wright sought clarification of the three-year hydrologic monitoring plan.  Mr. Brown said it was still being worked on and monitoring would be conducted by someone qualified to evaluate hydrology.

Qualifying Jessica Linton
Ms. Linton holds B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Environmental Science and Resource Studies from Waterloo.  Her thesis research was on the impact of urban land use on butterflies.  Since 2006 she has worked as an environmental consultant for Natural Resource Solutions.  She has set up a post-construction monitoring program for Environment Canada on the St. Joseph Wind Farm in Manitoba.

There were no objections.  Ms. Linton was qualified as an “expert in butterfly habitat and butterfly behaviour.”

Examination of Ms. Linton
Ms. Linton toured Ostrander Point on May 2 in the company of two Stantec employees.  She found signs of suitable Monarch Butterfly habitat (e.g. red cedars, asters, and milkweed) for both breeding and migratory stopover.  She said Monarchs make irregular use of sites for migration depending on weather, nightfall, and food sources.  Consequently, she confirmed the evidence in Stantec reports and said that additional years of research at Ostrander Point would not provide more information than already gathered.

Ms. Linton concluded that the wind project would not have serious harmful effects on Monarchs because construction would begin in mid-October after the fall migration, habitat loss would not be significant, suitable habitat was available elsewhere on the site, restoration activities would replace lost habitat, and the Monarch population was resilient in the face of habitat losses.  She said the present population of eastern North America Monarchs numbers several hundred million.

PECFN Cross-examination of Ms. Linton
Ms. Linton agreed with PECFN lawyer Natalie Smith that Prince Edward County is known as a migratory pathway for Monarchs, Ostrander Point lies within the movement corridor, migratory stopover sites are rare, and nearby Prince Edward Point is designated as an International Butterfly Reserve.  However, she said Ostrander Point is not a known concentration area.  Although it shows no obvious signs of herbicide usage damaging butterfly habitat, other sites along the south shore are probably similar.

Re-examination of Ms. Linton
Mr. Rogers asked Ms. Linton about the Monarch population and habitat loss.  She said the Monarch population fluctuates rather than declines.  Habitat occurs everywhere in Southern Ontario.  But there is a concern in the United States about large-scale losses due to agriculture and development when habitat is replaced over large areas by crops or pavement.

ERT Panel Questions
Mr. Wright asked whether Monarchs had a migratory preference for points of land and peninsulas.  Ms. Linton said that Prince Edward Point was the most suitable location from this perspective.

Further Witnesses
The ERT Panel confirmed that two witnesses will be recalled:  Dr. Kerlinger and Dr. Catling.  However, since their availability is uncertain, the human health phase of the ERT appeal would commence on May 9.

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