THE PROVINCIALLY SIGNIFICANT WETLAND that was filled with material provided by Canadian Renewable Energy, and completed by contractors working for Canadian Renewable Energy: We continue to be denied concise answers as to who actually directed this work, but it would seem Canadian Renewable Energy provided excavated material from a work site free of charge, arranged an extension of a culvert to accommodate the roadwork on Nov. 5th, 2009 and paid the contractors to load, haul, and place the material Nov. 6th. The result is permanent loss to Provincially Significant Wetland Little Sandy Bay. Still, Canadian Hydro Developers says that the work has nothing to do with the wind project. The Township has failed to answer any questions, despite an access to information request by Wolfe Island Residents for the Environment (WIRE).
Part of the problem is that the Provincially Significant Wetland is now partially drained, as the culvert and extension were increased in size three-fold and sunk well below the original culvert. I have observed that what was once wetland is now (in spring, at the height of water saturation) almost dry.
CONSTRUCTION UPDATE: The commercial operation date is now end of June (partial operation is slated to begin in April, though the Post Construction Followup Plan has yet to be published). The routine annual dry-dock maintenance for the MTO ferry has now been set aside to accommodate the workers until September 2009. There is little evidence that the plan for transport of workers (to avoid long line-ups at ferries) is any longer in force. There seems to no longer be any restriction of use of ferry by workers, and Wolfe Islanders take “the back seats” in the line-up. Rumour has it the project is even more over budget and six months late.
COMMUNITY LIAISON COUNCIL: There are now only three people on the Community Liaison Council: one representative of the company, one land-owner under contract with the company, and one non-resident whose son is an engineer with the company. In other words, there are no community representatives not under contract (and non-disclosure agreements) on the Community Liaison Council. The Community Liaison Council ‘s next meeting has been scheduled for JULY!!! So much for community input.
ROADWORK: Many Township roads are almost impassable with old culverts dumped and lying rusted in the ditches, which have been filled with loose gravel to accommodate large vehicles. Residents have been told that some roads will not be fixed because “no one important lives down them”. The Township randomly closes roads at behest of the company. Municipal officials are now openly admitting the roadwork promised pre-construction will not be “of the quality and quantity” advertised. The expectation promoted by the company representative (Site Manager) that bicycle paths would be built is now defunct. The company is now very adamant that roads will not be upgraded following construction, but will be returned to the original state. This flies in the face of past promises.
Hedgerows have been crudely bulldozed and many mature trees that have been cut to accommodate the large trucks conveying blades have been scavenged for firewood, even inside provincially significant wetlands.
POST PRODUCTION FOLLOW-UP PLAN: This is the only bright spot in the report. WIRE and Lake Ontario Waterkeepers have been invited by Canadian Hydro Developers’ ecologist for PPFP to propose two representatives available to observe the PPFP monitoring of bird and bat resources. Note, this role is strictly as an “observer”: there is no indication what changes to the Post Construction Follow-up Plan have been undertaken in response to the public stakeholder submissions.
When Ontario’s Green Energy Act is passed, it is unlikely that any future wind turbine developments will be expected to complete a Post Construction Follow-up Plan (note, the Post Construction Follow-up Plan was a requirement of the Federal EA, not the provincial EA for Wolfe Island).
COMMUNITY: As expected, some making more money than they could hope for — vast majority are not. There is very high anxiety throughout community over commencement of commercial operations, noise being the main factor. Canadian Renewable Energy will not commit to any referral or action process or series of steps in the event that noise becomes an issue for a resident. Presumably if a non-participating resident has a noise concern, they are to contact the Site Manager and he’ll “take a look into it”. When pursued at a CLC meeting, the Site Manager refused to specify even the most basic first step that might be taken in the event of a noise complaint.
ECONOMY: Businesses servicing temporary construction workers have benefited significantly from work over winter and spring months. Many commercial cottage owners are experiencing drastic decline in bookings. Many homes are for sale with prices dropping and no interested buyers. Wolfe Island Music Festival in doubt.
That is the sad tale for now.
For more on the history of this project, click here