Mayor April Jeffs wasn’t surprised by the latest lawsuit filed against the township by Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc. “We weren’t expecting it though,” she said Thursday. The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 31 by the law firm Aird & Berlis LLP on behalf of its client, Wainfleet Wind Energy Inc., and is over $40,000 granted by the township to Skydive Burnaby. The money was granted at the December 10 council meeting to help Mike and Tara Pitt, owners of Skydive Burnaby, pay for legal costs related to an Environmental Review Tribunal hearing currently underway.
The tribunal is being held after the Pitts appealed the wind energy company’s project on Station Rd. where two turbines would be sited. The couple say the turbines could hurt their skydiving business. The township was served notice Tuesday, said Jeffs. “We’re going to meet in closed session on Tuesday (Jan. 14) to get advice from our lawyer,” the mayor said. The lawsuit, which has yet to come to court, claims the funds are a form of bonusing to Skydive Burnaby. A court document said council does not have the power to grant the funds to a private business under a Section 106 of the Municipal Act.
That section says no municipality shall assist directly or indirectly any business through the granting of bonuses, which includes giving or lending any property of the municipality, including money. “The provision of $40,000 from the Township to Skydive Burnaby Ltd. is an obvious financial benefit,” the court said, adding it is in clear contravention of the municipal act. The lawsuit seeks to have the council resolution declared without force or effect, that the township recoup any funds already paid to the Pitts and Skydive Burnaby, and that court costs be covered by Wainfleet. Read article