Thunder Bay Council to make decision on Horizon Wind project

By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com

Horizon Wind will have a definitive answer on Oct. 12 whether or not the city plans to allow the company’s proposed Nor’Wester Mountain Range wind turbine farm to go ahead.

City council on Monday ordered administration to prepare a public report on the land lease and the turbine locations, giving them just three days to post it on the city’s website.

Mayor Lynn Peterson, who spent more than two hours Monday night behind closed doors discussing the $75-million project with the rest of council, administration and city’s legal advisor, said it’s time to make a decision once and for all.

“We’ve certainly had a long, long discussion about this, and we certainly want to put this to bed and make a decision finally in the community,” Peterson said. “There’s nothing at work here, other than we’ve had a lot of information over about 13 or 14 meetings. And I believe that council wants to see a recommendation from administration to vote on.”

Coun. Andrew Foulds said it’s about time council held up its hands and said yea or nay about the controversial project, that would see 18 turbines erected on the mountain range.

“I think at the end of the day it’s council that has to make the decision,” Foulds said.

Peterson balked when asked if the city’s hand was being forced by the threat of a lawsuit by Horizon Wind, an option that has been wildly speculated in recent weeks, but denied by the company.

“We’ve had a process going here for almost a year, so I’m not going to count on that,” the mayor said.

Council’s decision to set a drop-dead date to make a decision did not sit well with opponents of the wind farm, mostly consisting of a group of Neebing residents concerned about plummeting property values, health issues and the environmental impact associated – fairly or unfairly – with wind-farm projects.

Nor’Wester Mountain Range Escarpment Protection Committee spokeswoman Irene Bond said she’s sick of hollow promises of transparency from the city, adding she’s very skeptical about how council is conducting business as the Oct. 25 municipal election nears.

“This is definitely not open, it’s not transparent and it is certainly not timely. We’re wondering what is the rush?” she said, also questioning the undisclosed amount of money the city last week authorized to do a rushed study on the validity of Horizon’s study on the turbines’ impact on the view from six key areas of the city, as well as their proposed locations.

“It was a complete waste of taxpayers’ dollars, because this has been done before. We weren’t saying the view-shed analysis was incorrect. It was inadequate. By only using Horizon’s data, this (Dillon Consulting Ltd.) admitted it would be reasonable to add more vantage points to the viewshed analysis, and that that would take time.”

NMEPC spokesman Sam Bachinski, who wouldn’t confirm that opponents are preparing a lawsuit of their own should the city and province ultimately approve the project, said he does plan to speak with the province’s closed-door-meeting investigator, to see if the city violated the law by potentially discussing matters not covered under the municipal closed-door policy.

“I’m disappointed about his whole process,” he said. “None of this should be behind closed doors. According to the municipal act the city has the option to hold closed-door meetings if they choose, on something like this, only on the acquisition or disposition of lands. This is neither the acquisition nor the disposition of lands. All these meetings should be held in open session.”

The Dillon study examined data from six different vantage points in the city, including two on Loch Lohmond Road, one on Deepwood Drive and one at Hillcrest Park.

Dillon Consulting’s Mario Buszynski said they could only do what they were asked, and had less than a week to conduct their study.

“Clearly we didn’t have the time to (study other view-sheds) in the time we were given,” he said. “All we could do is look at the existing viewpoints and determine if they were accurate. Could we look at other view points? Certainly. Could we look at the (Loch Lohmond) ski hill? Certainly,” he said.

Meanwhile Peterson said the three day timeframe for administration to get a report done is more than adequate.

“I believe there is,” she said. “We’ve got to talk about what the recommendation is and what the process is to get there. Administration certainly heard the questions tonight that were being asked by council. They know what type of questions we expect to have answered.”

Council will ratify its Oct. 12 decision at the Oct. 18 city council meeting, the final gathering before the election.  The province must still give the final OK to the project.

5 thoughts on “Thunder Bay Council to make decision on Horizon Wind project

  1. Why would the City undertake consultation if the Green Energy Act eliminates input from local Councils?

  2. Sounds like the Council wants to sign the deal with Horizon BEFORE Oct. 25th election in case there is a new Council voted in that doesn’t want this project!

    Also I expect this deal has been verbally approved many many months ago behind closed doors but now the Councilors seeking election want to “appear” caring and thoughtful to the potential voters”!

    How does one say “Dishonourable conduct?”

  3. Since the turbines are going to be placed on City of Thunder Bay property,the citizens must demand that any and all proposed contracts be made public before any city action is taken on them. The contracts must be open for discussion.

    The citizens of Thunder Bay have a right to know the terms of any contracts that will be signed on their behalf regarding wind turbine installations on city property.

    After all what is the rush! Cities and towns won’t even purchase and install playground equipment without first considering any and all questions regarding insurance and liability issues surrounding the installation of such eqipment.

    All conflict of interest issues surrounding these contracts must be resolved before signing. Has anyone with input to the contract/contracts,their families,or their spouse’s families have any financial interest in the wind turbine industry.

  4. And I should add that anyone with any input to any contract/contracts signed between the City of Thunder Bay and any wind turbine operators who later turn out to have lined their pockets from any contracts can be subject to criminal prosecution.

  5. We elected this last group of Alderpersons and expect them to look out for our best interests and yet there is major concern over this. Is this not a case of the higher tax base saying not in my backyard and that is that. I cannot figure out how the reserve has not said put it on top of Mount Mckay and got the extra revenue.

    I do think council should have made a more clearer decission but we did by election give them the right to work on our behalf. Now we have the right by election to change the Alderperson staff and give new people the right to work on our behalf.

    From what I have read and heard I think Thunder Bay is in for another 4 years of much the same as I have yet to see any candidates offering any real change.

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