by James Murray · newsnetledger.com
THUNDER BAY – “The City of Thunder Bay has reviewed Horizon’s Statement of Claim received late Tuesday and can now set the record straight”, stated City Manager Tim Commisso.
“Primarily, Horizon is looking to have the City execute the lease and approve the turbine locations they have proposed,” Commisso added. “In fact, Council on Tuesday authorized executing the lease, approved 14 of the 18 requested locations and asked that four locations be moved. While the City must act reasonably, it is under no obligation to approve all requested locations.
“City Council is fulfilling its obligations to move forward on this project having completed its due diligence. The City has been responsible and fair and will not be intimidated by the lawsuit or its timing a week before the municipal election.”
“We will be filing a defense in the near future and, as the lease agreement provides, seeking arbitration – an alternative to court – to resolve the turbine locations.”
On Oct. 18, Thunder Bay City Council authorized Administration to execute the lease with Horizon and approved 14 of 18 locations for wind turbines with a request for the other four wind turbines to be moved to no closer to the edge of the escarpment than the approved locations.
Here are the Key Facts:
- The primary relief Horizon is seeking through the claim is for the City to a) execute the lease of the land for the wind farm and b) approve the turbine locations they have proposed.
- In the early morning hours on Tuesday, City Council a) made the decision to execute the lease and b) approved 14 of 18 requested locations and asked that four locations be moved to no closer to the edge of the escarpment than the approved locations.
- The terms of the lease include an arbitration process that would serve as the mechanism for resolving disputes including the location of the turbines.
- Most of the financial damages are sought by Horizon as secondary relief should the primary relief, as noted above, not be granted. The City feels such an order is redundant since Council has already approved executing the lease.
- Horizon also makes other claims that in essence say the City delayed the process and breached confidentiality. The City of Thunder Bay exercised its rights and obligations to be thorough in its due diligence as it worked steadily to move the project forward. This project was the subject of many public meetings and a significant amount of public debate and discussion. The City believes Horizon will be unable to support its claim for damages.
Next Steps by City
- Filing a complete legal defense in the near future.
- Seeking arbitration, as provided for in the lease, to resolve the turbine locations.
- On Oct. 12, 2010, at a Special Committee of the Whole Meeting, Council approved 18 locations requested by Horizon for its Wind Farm project and authorized Administration to continue negotiating with Horizon for a different form of lease than the one attached to the original option to lease. The negotiations involved certain additional clauses sought by both the City and Horizon.
- In the week following, negotiations were ongoing with Horizon and did not result in agreement to a new form of lease.
- On Oct. 18, 2010, City Council passed a resolution to execute the original form of lease, approved 14 of 18 locations and asked that four locations be moved to no closer to the edge of the escarpment than the approved locations.
- On February 18, 2010, Horizon advised Administration it was ready to exercise the option to lease under contract with the City dated Nov. 23, 2007.
- Since November 2009, Council has considered this item on several occasions, both in Open and Closed Sessions.
- On May 14, 2009, Ontario’s Green Energy Act came into effect, removing the requirement for local planning approvals for green energy projects including proposed wind farm developments.
- On Nov. 5, 2007, Council in Open Session ratified a resolution authorizing Administration to enter into an Option Agreement granting an option to lease portions of the Loch Lomond Watershed Lands to Horizon Wind Limited Partnership.
- A detailed background and chronology of events is included in Corporate Report 2010.207 (City Solicitor & Corporate Counsel – Legal Services), presented to Council on Oct. 12, 2010.