Report on September 9 White Pines Wind Project Preliminary Hearing
by Paula Peel
The first day of the legal fight to stop wpd began in an unspectacular way. Most of the day was spent on scheduling, sorting out the logistics of two appeals (wpd is appealing the removal of two turbines from its wind project) and requests for formal status at the hearing. Marsha Valiante and Hugh Wilkins, the Tribunal members, efficiently dealt with these matters.
In the large, comfortable, air-conditioned room at the Essroc Arena it was sometimes easy to forget what we were there for. The only concrete reminder of the import of the proceedings was the handful of resolute PEC residents who one by one told the Tribunal about their concerns for their health and the environment and about years of futile efforts to get wpd to address their concerns. Although they were there on their own they had a sympathetic audience and the presence of Mayor Robert Quaiff and South Marysburgh Councilor Steve Ferguson provided added support.
Overall the Preliminary Hearing went well for our legal case moving forward. Here are some of the highlights:
- As a result of Steve Ferguson’s submission the Tribunal is providing a second Preliminary Hearing date for October 14 which will also hear motions. Furthermore wpd has been directed to deliver a new notification to residents in the project area. This came about after Mr. Ferguson advised the Tribunal that notices were sent out 2 – 3 days before the deadline expiry date to request status at the hearing. In some cases notifications were received the same day as the deadline expiry date and many residents did not receive a notification at all. Patrick Duffy, the lawyer for wpd confirmed that no residents on the 28 km transmission line were notified.
- The hearing start date is delayed to November 2 over the objections of wpd which wanted to keep the October start date.
- The Tribunal took the same position as APPEC lawyer Eric Gillespie that the appeal will be on 27 turbines over the objections of wpd which wants the appeal to be on 29 turbines. However, wpd will be raising a motion to try and convince the ERT panel that it should be 29 turbines. More to come on this …
- All residents seeking formal status at the hearing want the same outcome as APPEC. The Tribunal granted Presenter status to all of the 4 applicants.
- The Tribunal will allow APPEC’s interest in the “139” wpd Heritage appeal to be granted APPEC Party Status as there was no objections from MOECC and wpd council. The terms of the Party status will be documented and agreed to next week.
This may be the first ERT in Ontario where the number of lawyers appealing a renewable energy approval will actually exceed the numbers of Ministry and corporate lawyers representing the interests of wind developers. APPEC lawyers Eric Gillespie and Priya Vital were joined by two lawyers from the municipality which is seeking Party Status at the hearing. Liz Driver and Edwin Rowse are also seeking Party Status and that will add to our numbers. The PEC south shore will be ably represented at this ERT.
The APPEC Board thanks all who attended the hearing. If you would like to be notified of upcoming hearings please contact Mr. Paul DeMedeiro at the Environmental Review Tribunal Paul.DeMedeiros@ontario.ca. In your message be sure to note your interest in the White Pines Wind Project proceedings.