Ontario Gothic

Wellington Times, Rick Conroy
Mary Shelley is said to have conceived the story of Frankenstein, a manmade monster let loose upon the countryside, while under the influence of opium in the cold summer of 1816. The gothic horror story, it turns out, was the work of a dark imagination fuelled by opioids.

It begs the question: what was Kathleen Wynne and her government smoking when they let loose their own man-made monsters across rural Ontario—in the form of industrial wind developers and speculators?

Even if you buy the sentiment that their motivations were well-intentioned, the undeniable outcome of the Green Energy Act is that Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty have spawned armies of amoral monstrous corporate creatures and have let them loose to roam unfettered across the province. To wreak havoc in rural communities. To despoil the environment. To slaughter endangered species. To make folks sick.

Worse, our government has paved the way, clearing hurdles and slashing regulations to enable these creatures to prey upon vulnerable communities, natural habitats and endangered species. Now they have lost control of their grotesque creations. Even Kathleen Wynne must know how this story ends.

Near Chatham, folks believe the wind developer working nearby has poisoned their wells—allowing toxins into their drinking supply. They have done the testing. They have spoken out. They have protested. Marched on Queen’s Park. Kathleen Wynne has ignored them.

Wynne, her government and her supporters comfort themselves believing the scourge they have unleashed—though ugly and abusive— is a necessary evil. That the greater good is being served. They ignore the folks holding up jars of black liquid, pleading with the province to test their water, drawn from wells that have become undrinkable since the wind developer began driving piles into the bedrock to secure its massive wind turbines. Even Chatham- Kent’s mayor has demanded Kathleen Wynne intervene to protect these residents. It has made no difference.

Left without the protection of the province—without the safeguards that would protect them from any other development— these folks took matters into their own hands. In August, they began blockading the construction site— neighbours joining together to form a line against the threat to their drinking water.

On Monday, in a cruel blow, the developers— a Korean conglomerate and its American partner—won a court injunction barring any further blockades of the project. The judge said he wasn’t trying to muzzle opponents, but to “prohibit unlawful acts”.

In Ontario’s perverse hunger for industrial wind turbines, it turns out Chatham-Kent residents must first prove they have been poisoned by the developer, before they may seek justice. By then, of course, the damage will have been done. Recourse will expensive and, for most, unattainable.

Four years ago, the giant American wind developer Next Era sued Esther Wrightman for defamation. On her website she had altered the company’s logo to NextError and Next Terror. They wanted the logos removed or they would litigate the mother of two young children into oblivion. All these years later, the legal action is still pending. Wrightman wakes up every morning with the weight of this action still weighing on her head. Read article

Wind turbine appeal leaves wpd spinning

Gisele Winton Sarvis, The Enterprise Bulletin
The plan for wind turbines in Clearview has been suspended. In the David and Goliath battle between the small municipality of Clearview and the Government of Ontario and wpd Canada, subsidiary of an international wind energy company, the little guy won – for now.

The Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) decision that the appeals were allowed was delivered by Dirk Vanderbent and Hugh Wilkins just after 6 p.m. Friday when the hearing was adjourned. The ERT ruled that the plans for turbines in proximity of Collingwood Regional Airport and the surrounding areas was proven to be a detriment both to human safety to planes using the airport and well and an environmental challenge to certain species, specifically the little brown bat.batspeciesmortalityontario

“It’s a great win for the Clearview,” said Mayor Chris Vanderkruys. “It’s a great win for the County of Simcoe. It’s a great win for the Clearview Aviation Business Park around the Collingwood Airport,” Vanderkruys said. “I think this has strengthened our vision of the industrial project and it will be a boom for the economy of Simcoe County,” he added.

The County of Simcoe, the Town of Collingwood and the Township of Clearview appealed the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change’s (MOECC) approval of the wpd Canada Fairview Wind Project based on the threat to human safety with the turbines being placed in close proximity to the Collingwood Regional Airport.

Kevin and Gail Elwood and Preserve Clearview Inc. fought on the basis of threat to human safety with the turbines being place in close to their privately owned Stayner Aerodrome. Elwood, a commercial pilot and Clearview councillor has spend a large sum of money fighting this project. “I’m so proud to represent the community both as an appellant and as a councillor. I’ve received strong support from the community,” he said. Read article


Study: Wind turbines cause chronic stress in badgers in Great Britain

Roseanna C. N. AgnewValerie J. Smith, and Robert C. Fowkes, Royal Veterinary College, 4 Royal College Street, London NW1 0TU, UK , Zoological Society of London, Outer Circle, Regent’s Park, London NW1 4RY, UK, Scottish Oceans Institute, East Sands, University of St. Andrews, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 8LB, UK
Corresponding author (email: )


A paucity of data exists with which to assess the effects of wind turbines noise on terrestrial wildlife, despite growing concern about the impact of infrasound from wind farms on human health and well-being. In 2013, we assessed whether the presence of turbines in Great Britain impacted the stress levels of badgers (Meles meles) in nearby setts. Hair cortisol levels were used to determine if the badgers were physiologically stressed. Hair of badgers living <1 km from a wind farm had a 264% higher cortisol level than badgers >10 km from a wind farm. This demonstrates that affected badgers suffer from enhanced hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal activity and are physiologically stressed. No differences were found between the cortisol levels of badgers living near wind farms operational since 2009 and 2012, indicating that the animals do not become habituated to turbine disturbance. Cortisol levels in the affected badgers did not vary in relation to the distance from turbines within 1 km, wind farm annual power output, or number of turbines. We suggest that the higher cortisol levels in affected badgers is caused by the turbines’ sound and that these high levels may affect badgers’ immune systems, which could result in increased risk of infection and disease in the badger population.

Turtles topple turbines as ERT revokes project approval

sign blanding turtleCounty Live
The County’s Blandings turtles, and nature in general, are victorious in the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists’ more than six-year battle to protect the south shore of Prince Edward County.

The Environmental Review Tribunal in the Ostrander Point industrial wind turbine hearing has decided “remedies proposed by Gilead Power Corporation and the Director (MOEE) are not appropriate” and has revoked the Renewable Energy Approval for the nine turbine project.

“The tribunal decision says that no matter how important renewable energy is to our future it does not automatically override the public interest in protecting against other environmental harm such as the habitat of species at risk,” says Myrna Wood, president of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists. “This was the basis of PECFN’s appeal. This decision not only protects the Blanding’s turtle but also the staging area for millions of migrating birds and bats and the Monarch butterflies.”

In their decision, ERT vice-chairs Heather Gibbs and Robert Wright state “The Tribunal finds that to proceed with the project, when it will cause serious and irreversible harm to animal life, a species at risk and its habitat, is not consistent with the general and renewable energy approval purposes of the Environmental Protection Act, protection and conservation of the natural environment and protection and conservation of the environment, nor does it serve the public interest.

“In this particular case, preventing such harm outweighs the policy of promoting renewable energy through this nine wind turbine project in this location.” Read article

Statement on Divisional Court ruling on Ontario’s Endangered Species Act

eagle nestOntario Nature
TORONTO — Ontario’s Divisional Court has upheld a provincial regulation that exempts major industries from the Endangered Species Act and allows them to kill species at risk and destroy their habitat.

“This is a disappointing decision for Ontario’s endangered and threatened wildlife,” said Ecojustice lawyer Lara Tessaro. “The Endangered Species Act is intended to put species first — not to let their survival be balanced against competing industrial interests. That would tip the scale towards extinction.”

When it was introduced in 2007, the Endangered Species Act was considered the gold standard law for species protection in North America. Unfortunately, recent years have seen Ontario shirk its duties to protect at-risk wildlife.

In 2013, the province introduced a regulation that exempts major industries from strict protection standards under the Endangered Species Act — in many cases giving them a free pass to kill endangered or threatened species and destroy their habitat, as long as this harm is “minimized.” To challenge this regulation, Ontario Nature and Wildlands League, represented by Ecojustice lawyers, brought a lawsuit that culminated in a hearing earlier this year.

“There are too many plants and animals that are teetering on the edge in this province,” said Anna Baggio of Wildlands League. “We will continue to speak up for them until their habitat is protected and until they are no longer at risk of extinction.” Read article

Turtle beats turbine

Blandings turtle rulesQuinte News
An endangered species has won the power struggle over Ostrander Point as Ontario’s top court has ruled in favour of the Blanding’s turtle over turbines.

In a historic ruling the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned a provincial court decision in relation to the Renewable Energy Approval of Gilead Power’s nine turbine project.


Gillespie says Gilead now has a couple of options going forward one of them being to ask the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa to hear the case. He says there’s no automatic right to do that you need leave or permission from the Supreme Court.

Gillespie says the other way that this is definitely going to play out is the Environmental Review Tribunal has been asked by the Ontario Court of Appeal to hear some further submissions on what the solution to this situation should be. Read article

One more challenge

blandings_turtleWellington Times, Rick Conroy
A desperate race is afoot. On one side, Gilead Power Corporation vows it will begin the levelling of Ostrander Point as soon as conditions on the site permit. On the other side, the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists are headed back to court seeking to stop the developer. Who wins this race may well impact the vitality of a distinct and rare alvar habitat, thousands of migrating birds and animals, as well as the health and enjoyment of property for those who live near this rugged bit of Prince Edward County.

Armed with a court-reinstated Renewable Energy Approval (REA), Gilead Power is free to begin clearing land, carving new roadways and preparing for the construction of nine industrial wind turbines, the first of dozens planned to be erected in South Marysburgh. Only an abundant snowfall has deterred earthmoving equipment since a divisional court overturned, last month, an Environmental Review Tribunal (Tribunal) decision to stop the project.

The developer has signalled its eagerness to begin clearing the site of vegetation in preparation of the search for and removal of any unexploded weapons that may be lodged in the soil—potential remnants of the County’s south shore history as a gunnery range during WW2. Read article

Wrong to assume

New environmentalismWellington Times, Rick Conroy
The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists are wrong. Ontario Nature. Nature Canada. Both wrong. Dr. Robert McMurtry is wrong. The South Shore Conservancy is wrong. So too is the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. Alvar, bird, butterfly, turtle and bat experts are all wrong. The municipality of Prince Edward is wrong. As are the majority of County residents who believed Crown Land at Ostrander Point should be preserved—rather than industrialized for the profit of one corporation.

And now we have learned that Ontario’s own Environmental Review Tribunal is wrong. A Toronto court has said so. This ought to keep Premier Kathleen Wynne up at night.

The Tribunal’s Robert Wright and Heather Gibbs spent more than 40 days hearing evidence, challenging testimony and witnesses and weighing competing claims. They began their task in a snowstorm in February; and delivered their decision on a hot July day last summer. Wright and Gibbs visited Ostrander Point. They walked around. They saw, with their own eyes, what was at stake. Read article

Overuled on Ostrander

sign blanding turtleWellington Times, Rick Conroy
A divisional court has ruled in favour of an industrial wind energy developer clearing the path to construct nine industrial wind turbines on Crown Land at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County. The decision is here.

Last year an Environmental Review Tribunal revoked the permit awarded to Gilead Power Corporation to proceed with its project at Ostrander Point. It concluded that the threat posed by the development to Blanding’s turtle was likely to cause serious and irreversible harm to the an endangered species, Further they felt the developers proposed mitigation measures were untested and the consequences too grave.

The developer appealled to the Ontario Superior Court arguing, in part, that the issue of its right to “harm, harass and kill” the endangered species had been settled as part of the Ministry of Natural Resources Endangered Species Act assessment. They argued that the Tribunal didn’t have the authority to review it. Read article

Atwood backs Amherst Island wind turbine opponents

atwoodBy Elliot Ferguson, Kingston Whig-Standard
KINGSTON – Opponents of a proposed wind energy development on Amherst Island have a new ally in their fight. Canadian author and environmental activist Margaret Atwood voiced her opposition to the proposal in a letter to the Premier Kathleen Wynne, the leaders of both Opposition parties, senior MPPs and Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller.

“I was horrified to hear of the proposal to blanket Amherst Island with wind turbines,” Atwood wrote, who also tweeted her opposition to her 472,000 followers on Twitter. “Amherst is very well known as a hugely important natural site. If it is destroyed, Ontario will attract world-wide negative attention. Is this what Ontario wants to be known for?”

Windlectric Inc. is proposing to build a 36-turbine, 75-megawatt wind energy project on Amherst Island. Last month, Windlectric’s Amherst Island Renewable Energy Approval application was deemed complete by the provincial environment ministry, despite opposition from community and environmental groups that say the project is not complete. Read article

Court favours wind turbines over endangered Blanding’s turtle

alvar destructionJohn Spears, Toronto Star
Blanding’s turtle is in trouble again: An Ontario court has cleared the way for a wind farm that an environmental tribunal says will threaten the turtle’s habitat. The modest reptile had stood in the way of a wind farm at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County.

But a divisional court panel ruled Thursday that theenvironmental tribunal made six errors of law in reaching its conclusion that the wind farm would cause “serious and irreversible harm” to the turtle.

The court restored the decision by provincial officials, allowing Gilead Power to proceed with the project, which would erect nine big wind turbines on the site.

It was a bitter blow to local nature and conservation groups. They had argued the wind farm – and the increased traffic associated with it – would harm not just the turtles, but also birds, bats and the rare “alvar” ecosystem at Ostrander Point. Read article

To harm, harass and kill

sign blanding turtleWellington Times, Rick Conroy
By the time Heather Gibbs and Robert Wright concluded that the risk, posed by a proposed industrial wind project at Ostrander Point upon the Blanding’s turtle, was simply too great, and the damage likely permanent, the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT or Tribunal) panel had heard more than 40 days of testimony. More than 188 exhibits had been entered into evidence. Their decision ran 140 pages.

That decision, to revoke the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) granted to Gilead Power by the Ministry of Environment (MOE), rocked the wind energy sector in this country. It sent government bureaucrats scurrying for cover.

If the fate of a turtle could block the development of an industrial wind project—the precedent could be a formidable roadblock to similar projects across the province and Canada. There are other turtles and endangered species that deserve the protection this panel afforded the Blanding’s turtle of Ostrander Point. The implications are profound.

Wright and Gibbs must have known their words, their actions, and their decision would be attacked, pulled apart and recast as naïve or simply mistaken. Read article

Turtles vs turbines case goes to court

blandings_turtleToronto Star
Blanding’s turtles get their day in court this week – three days, in fact – as a case that pits turtles against wind turbines enters a new phase. The turtles won the first round last year, when an environmental review tribunal blocked a proposal to erect nine turbines on the shore of Lake Ontario at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County.

The reason: The tribunal ruled that new roads built for access to the turbines would cause “serious and irreversible harm” to the local population of Blanding’s turtles, a threatened species. After hearing arguments from the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists club, the tribunal revoked the renewable energy permit that wind developer Gilead Power had previously been granted.

The case highlighted the tensions that have developed between some environmentalists and the wind energy industry. Tuesday the wind power company, Gilead Power, and Ontario’s ministry of the environment were in divisional court to appeal the ruling. Read article

Gilead, MOE & CanWEA desperate to kill/harm/harass PECFN’s Ostrander Pt win

sign blanding turtleCCSAGE
Rick Conroy, editor of The Times, had lots to say this past week about the bizarre situation of Prince Edward Field Naturalists’ having to fight the combined forces of Gilead Power Corporation, the Ministry of the Environment and now the Canadian Wind Energy Association, in order to protect its win on the Ostrander Point project.  To describe PECFN as the underdog would be one of the great understatements of the year.

Gilead and its buddies MOE and CanWEA are making a desperate attempt to salvage the Ostrander Point project via an appeal to the Divisional Court which:

  1. Argues that the ERT exceeded its jurisdiction in second-guessing MNR’s approval to kill/harm/harass Blanding’s turtle;
  2. Attempts to introduce new evidence (normally not allowed in an appeal) — namely, to install a series of lockable gates to reduce road mortality;
  3. Introduces Big Brother CanWEA as an intervenor to help run up PECFN’s legal bills even further. Read article

Turtle gates

tor_652011Wellington Times
Ostrander wind developer to argue that gates can protect Blanding’s turtles
The developer seeking to construct nine 50-storey industrial wind turbines at Ostrander Point is now proposing to erect a series of gates on provincially owned crown land—in a last ditch maneuver to persuade a provincial court to overturn an Environmental Review Tribunal decision that took away the developer’s permit to build the project in a landmark ruling issued earlier this year.

In July, after more than 40 days of hearings, the Tribunal revoked a Ministry of Environment approval of the project in which Gilead Power Corporation proposed to develop a nine-turbine wind project on Crown land on the shores of South Marysburgh. The twomember panel ruled that the project would cause serious and irreversible harm to the Blanding’s turtles that reside in this rare alvar habitat at Ostrander Point. The Tribunal concluded, too, that measures proposed by the developer to lessen the impact of the development on the turtles were untested and unlikely to be effective. Given that the Blanding’s turtle is an endangered species, they decided the potential harm was too great, and once inflicted could not be undone.

It was a precedent-setting decision— not since the provincial government had enacted legislation to reduce the administrative and regulatory hurdles for wind and solar energy developers had an environmental review tribunal revoked an approval permit. Conservation groups and environmentalists rejoiced— as did everyone else opposed to Ontario’s natural heritage being spoiled by 500-foot towers of carbon and steel structures.

The developer appealed the Tribunal decision, along with the Ministry of Environment, seeking to uphold the approval of the project. Read article

Wind wars blowing up as Ontario rejects appeal

eagle nest Bornish mapBy David Nesseth, Ecolog
An Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal has dismissed a public appeal against a southwestern Ontario wind farm project feared to endanger human health and species at risk.

Several Ontario wind farm appeals are on the books or already underway, so the November 12, 2013 ruling may set a critical precedent, at least in terms of momentum, in the ongoing conflict between the Ontario government’s desire to embrace renewable energy and the public’s apparent skepticism over wind energy in particular. These concerns stem primarily from wind technology’s sound levels, aesthetics, shadows, height, and the threat posed to wildlife by the turbines’ large spinning blades. Continue reading

PECFN readies to defend Ostrander Point

ERT EricWellington Times
PECFN readies for courtroom battle to defend Ostrander Point from MOE and developer
It was an evening to celebrate—to recognize a most improbable win against two powerful adversaries. It was also time to begin preparations for the next battle to save Ostrander Point from the development of industrial wind turbines.

The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) gathered last week at a hall in Bloomfield for a feast of homemade casseroles, salads and squares to rejoice in the Environmental Review Tribunal decision to revoke the approval of a nine industrial wind turbine project on Ostrander Point on south shore of Prince Edward County. The Tribunal ruled that the impact of the project and the roadway necessary to access each 500-foot structure would cause ‘serious and irreversible harm’ to the Blanding’s turtle

“We won,” proclaimed Myrna Wood, PECFN chair. “We knew we could win. We knew that if anyone took an objective look at the sensitive nature on our south shore they would not allow this kind of development to happen here.” PECFN was joined in their celebratory supper by their lawyer, Eric Gillespie, and associate lawyer, Natalie Smith. Gillespie told the jubilant gathering that their victory has inspired hope across the province for those working to protect their homes, communities and natural ecosystems from the harmful impact of industrial wind turbines. “You have shown you can change what seemed inevitable,” said Gillespie. “No doubt in my mind there would be turbines on Ostrander Point right now if not for you.” Read article

New lawsuit launched to protect Ontario’s endangered species

sign blanding turtleBy Dr. Anastasia Lintner, EcoJustice
There are many plants, birds and animals in Ontario whose survival is currently endangered or threatened. Without a concerted effort to ensure that these species are protected from harm, and have the homes and spaces necessary for their survival, we risk losing them altogether. The Ontario government has failed to deliver on its promise to defend endangered and threatened species.
And today, we’re doing something about that.

A promise to Ontarians and species at risk
In May 2007, we stood up with a coalition of environmental groups to celebrate significantly improved legal protections for Ontario’s at-risk species and their habitats. We saw the Endangered Species Act, 2007 (ESA), as the best legal framework for protecting species at risk. It was a gold-star or A+ effort that was worth celebrating. All that was left to do was for the provincial government to implement the new law and uphold its commitment to use a strong, science-based approach to species protection.

A promise goes unfulfilled
Since the new law was put on the books, things have gone downhill.
2008: The Ontario government missed the deadline to put habitat protections into place for Woodland Caribou when the new law came into force.
2011: More than two years later, the Ontario government exempted logging, mining, road building activities from meeting requirements of the ESA for Woodland Caribou.
2012: The Ontario government attempted to amend the ESA through omnibus budget legislation. This effort failed at the all-party budget hearings, where committee members from the New Democratic Party and the Progressive Conservative Party voted down the government’s proposed amendments.
2012: As a result of the continuing lack of effective implementation of the ESA, we gave Ontario a C+ in our 2012 report card on species protection.

Gutting the Endangered Species Act: Introducing exemptions
In December 2012, the Ministry of Natural Resources — including Minister David Orazietti — began consulting on proposed new regulations for the ESA. Despite public opposition to his proposal, Orazietti recommended (and Cabinet subsequently made) a new regulation that harms species by allowing major industries to avoid strict standards intended to protect at-risk species and their habitats. These new regulatory exemptions largely came into effect in July 2013. Read article

Chiarelli avoids answering tough question (from a 7 year old)


When Clara is asked to answer a question in school, she does.

When Clara asks the Energy Minister to answer a question (late last year)…. well, he doesn’t, and then he quits. Then the next Energy Minister doesn’t…and when it is sent to him via hand delivery from his Deputy Minister, he finally responds… but doesn’t answer the question.

As Clara’s older brother would say, Min. Chiarelli, this letter is an “epic FAIL“. Really, “Thank you for your interest in clean energy”?? Bob, thirty-seven wind turbines were just approved to surround this kid’s home and school. Whether you realize it or not, your letter just told her that you don’t like people, cows and birds… that’s why your government is pushing these machines on us and our environment. Otherwise you would have answered her question with a simple “yes”.


Fight over wind project on rare turtle habitat rages on

blandings_turtleToronto Star
There may be yet another round in the battle over an endangered turtle habitat in Prince Edward County. Gilead Power and the Environment ministry are challenging the findings of an environmental review tribunal, which last month sided with defenders of Blanding’s turtle, and stopped a wind farm from being built on Ostrander Point.

The decision, which overturned the province’s earlier approval of the project, is now being appealed to divisional court, which will determine whether to hear the case. The tribunal determined that the required access roads would cause “serious and irreversible harm” to the rare reptile.

But Michael Lord, vice-president of Gilead Power, said the tribunal “does not have any jurisdiction” to comment on a permit issued in 2012 by the Natural Resources ministry under the Endangered Species Act. Lord said the ministry granted the “overall benefit” permit because it felt “we had put sufficient mitigation measures in, as well as 20 years of impact monitoring on the site.” Read article

Gilead, MoE file appeals

sign blanding turtleBelleville Intelligencer
PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY – Appeals filed by a Port Perry-based company and an Ontario ministry aren’t surprising for a small group of Prince Edward County residents but they are disappointing. Cheryl Anderson, spokesperson for the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, said her group anticipated Gilead Power to appeal a recent Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) decision that ruled the proposed wind turbine project at Ostrander Point posed serious risk to wildlife — namely Blanding’s turtles — on the Crown land. However, she said, the fact the Ontario Ministry of the Environment also filed a counter-appeal was somewhat a shock.

“We’re not surprised. We’d been advised to expect it,” she said. “It is discouraging the Ministry of the Environment also counter-appealed because, I think, as citizens of Ontario we expect our Ministry of the Environment and our Ministry of Natural Resources to be protecting special places and special habitats. They’re not doing that.” Neither representatives of Gilead Power or the MoE could be reached for comment Monday.

The Ministry of Environment issued an approval to Ostrander Point Wind Energy LP for the nine-turbine Ostrander Point project on Dec. 20, 2012. Last month, the ERT stated in its ruling that “the Tribunal finds that mortality due to roads, brought by increased vehicle traffic, poachers and predators, directly in the habitat of Blanding’s turtle, a species that is globally endangered and threatened in Ontario, is serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s turtles at Ostrander Point Crown Land Block that will not be effectively mitigated by the conditions in the (Renewable Energy Approval).” Read article

How a turtle toppled Prince Edward County wind turbines

Blandings turtle rulesThe Star
In honour of the hero of this tale, the small but mighty emydoidea blandingii, it shall unfold slowly and sedately, at a turtle’s pace. Once upon a time, after his re-election in 2007 to a second majority government, then-premier Dalton McGuinty had a change of attitude. He returned to work, he said, with more confidence and less patience.

By 2009, McGuinty decided the economic recession pounding Ontario demanded that his Liberal government be bold, make controversial decisions and, if necessary, brush NIMBYists aside wherever they raised their heads. That February, the former premier announced his Green Energy Act, an initiative that would, he foretold, generate a prosperous, sunny Ontario of whirring wind turbines, solar power and 50,000 new jobs. The green economy was the future, he said, “and we need to get there first.” Read article

Plus: Listen to Lawyer Eric Gillespie on CBC Radio Ontario Morning on the Ostrander Point Decision

Blanding’s turtles halt wind farm at Ostrander Point

blandings_turtleJohn Spears, Toronto Star
All hail Blanding’s turtle. The rare reptile’s presence at Ostrander Point in Prince Edward County has prompted an environmental review tribunal to block a proposed wind farm.

The roads associated with the wind farm would bring “increased vehicle traffic, poachers and predators, directly in the habitat of Blanding’s turtle, a species that is globally endangered and threatened in Ontario,” and that would result in “serious and irreversible harm” to the species, the tribunal has found.

As a result, a wind farm proposed by Gilead Power cannot proceed on the site, near the southeasterly tip of the county.

The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists had objected to the development, complaining it would harm migratory birds and bats as well as the turtle. Continue reading

Tribunal allows PECFN appeal, revokes approval of Ostrander project

Slow but sure and the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists win – with thanks to the endangered Blanding’s turtle. The Environmental Review Tribunal has allowed the appeal of the Ostrander Point Project by PECFN on grounds of serious and irreversible harm to the natural environment, and has revoked the approval of the project by the Director, Ministry of the Environment.

Lawyer Eric Gillespie represented the PECFN and the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC). The two citizen-based groups, on Jan. 4, 2013 – appealed the Ministry of the Environment’s approval of Gilead Power’s nine turbine Ostrander Point industrial wind project. The approval of the project by the MOE came under fire as it was issued Dec. 20, 2012 – just before the Christmas holidays.

The tribunal decision was announced Wednesday after 40 days, 185 exhibits and testimony of 31 expert witnesses appeared before the panel of lawyers Robert Wright and Heather Gibbs in Demorestville and Toronto. The tribunal concluded “that engaging in the project in accordance with the REA will cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment. This is on the basis of findings that such harm will be caused to Blanding’s turtle.”

The PECFN appeal hearing took place over 24 hearing days and the APPEC appeal hearing took 16 days. The tribunal heard from nine witnesses for PECFN, 15 for  APPEC, 10 for the Director and 13 for the approval holder. Read article

New Rules for wind developments threaten endangered species

Wind farms and endangered or threatened species
The rules for operating a wind facility (a wind farm or turbine) that may affect a species or habitat protected by law. —- Effective July 1, 2013.

The law
Ontario’s Endangered Species Act protects endangered and threatened species — animals and plants in decline and at risk of disappearing from the province. You need to follow certain rules if you operate a wind facility that could affect a protected species or habitat. Different rules apply if you want to build a new wind facility.

Source law
You can find a complete set of provincial rules related to this activity in:

Ontario endangered species changes spark controversy

561831_10151316868241741_138867806_nSun News
TORONTO – Changes to Ontario’s Endangered Species Act have pitted environmental groups who accuse the government of gutting the legislation against municipal leaders and farmers who support the new streamlined rules. Natural Resources Minister David Orazietti said he’s moving ahead with standardized rules that will make it easier to carry out necessary activities, such as repairing a bridge, while still protecting species at risk.

“The regulatory changes, I certainly, feel have broad support and will make the implementation of the act moving forward effective,” Orazietti said. Mark Wales, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, said the regulatory and administrative changes will improve the permitting process without compromising the integrity of the legislation. Russ Powers, president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, said property owners and businesses will find the rules practical and effective.

For four major environmental groups, the new exemptions leave the province’s most threatened plants and animals at greater risk. Earthroots, Ontario Nature, the David Suzuki Foundation and Sierra Club Canada have joined forces to fight what they argue is the dismantling of the six-year-old act. The changes set a lower standard of protection for endangered wildlife where they conflict with industries such as forestry, pits and quarries, mining, hydro, infrastructure development, residential construction and renewable energy projects, environmentalists say. Read article

Day 13 of Ostrander Point — Don Davis on Monarch butterflies

monarchs_flightReport on April 8th ERT Hearing, by Henri Garand, Chair, APPEC , CCSAGE
On April 8, the Environmental Review Tribunal heard testimony from Bill Evans on birds and Don Davis on Monarch butterflies.

Bill Evans Testimony (contd.)
Mr. Evans summarized his testimony from Friday as follows:

  • The Ostrander Point project would impact aerial insectivores like the Tree Swallow, Purple Martin and Common Nighthawk.
  • The project would not affect migratory birds at the population level, but it would affect local populations of breeding birds.
  • The project was unique because of its location within an Important Bird Area (IBA) on a peninsula.  The highest mortality was to be expected, especially for raptors.

Ministry of Environment (MOE) lawyer Sylvia Davis had no questions. Gilead lawyer Douglas Hamilton called attention to the size of the Ostrander Point project versus Wolfe Island’s and questioned the scale of the impacts.  Then he asked about mitigations.  Mr. Evans said that since the disruptions to birds were spread over many months, mitigations could not be temporary measures and they would affect the economics of the project.   Hamilton also pressed Mr. Evans to explain what he meant by a “didactic example” of the Purple Martin, saying the usage was unfamiliar. Mr. Evans said it meant “educational”. Read article

Day 10 of Ostrander: Dr. Frederic Beaudry on Blanding’s turtle

[Report on April 3rd ERT Hearing by Paula Peel, APPEC member]
The Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) focused on PECFN’s witness, Frederic Beaudry, PhD in Wildlife Ecology, and Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, Alfred University. His publications include four on Blanding’s turtles. The other parties did not dispute Dr. Beaudry’s qualifications, and Robert Wright, one of the ERT Panel Co-Chairs, qualified him as “an expert on Blanding’s turtles”.

Dr. Beaudry’s Presentation
A. Population Ecology
Dr. Beaudry implicitly confirmed the prior testimony of road ecologist Kari Gunson on the biology of Blanding’s turtles: slow maturity, low reproductive rate, and vulnerability of hatchlings to predation.

B. Habitat Ecology
Dr. Beaudry explained the need for specific habitats. Wetlands with good sun exposure and food resources are essential. In the early spring foods such as tadpoles, mosquito larvae, salamanders are present in wetlands that tend to be shallow and temporary. In May and June turtles move towards nesting sites. Turtles have been observed moving 10-15 km in a season. They are particularly vulnerable when on roads. In late summer and fall they return to wetlands with good sun exposure and sufficient depth so as not to freeze to the bottom. All habitats are available at Ostrander Point. Read article

Day 3 of the Ostrander Point ERT appeal — Dr. Paul Catling on alvars

Ostrander-Point CCSAGE
by Orville Walsh
Examination-in-chief and cross-examination of PECFN expert witness Dr. Paul Catling

The only scheduled activity for the third day of the hearing was the testimony and cross-examination of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists’ expert witness Dr. Paul Catling.

Dr. Catling received his doctorate in plant systematics from the University of Toronto in 1980 and has worked as a Research Scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) ever since. He is the Curator of the Agriculture Canada herbarium, Canada’s largest plant collection, with over a million flowering plant specimens. Dr. Catling has authored over 200 refereed scientific articles and co-authored several books. He is internationally known for his work on the classification and ecology of plants and insects, and is widely recognized as an expert on hybridization and pollination biology.

Much of Dr. Catling’s work at AAFC has involved economically important plants, particularly aquatics, forages, berry crops, and invading alien weeds. He has also worked towards the protection of economically important threatened native Canadian plants, and has participated in national and international committees concerned with plant conservation. Read article

Preliminary hearing into turbines at Ostrander Point to continue

Ostrander Point AppelCountylive
Despite Friday’s inclement weather, 75 people attended an Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) at Picton Town Hall regarding industrial wind turbine development at Ostrander Point.

Robert Wright presided and lawyers for the parties to the ERT appeal, Ministry of Environment and Gilead Power were also present for this preliminary hearing. It purpose is to determine scheduling for the main hearing, identify parties, participants and presenters, and the scope of their participation; to hear preliminary motions and deal with other administrative issues.

“There was not enough time on Friday for all the issues, due to the complicated nature of the hearing,” said Myna Wood, president of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists.

“Legal wrangling regarding the requirement for Alliance for the Protection of Prince Edward County (APPEC) to produce medical records for their witnesses took most of the afternoon. Because of time constraints, legal counsel for APPEC, Eric Gillespie (also representing Prince Edward County Field Naturalists) was not able to make all his arguments. The legal representatives agreed to meet in the next couple of weeks to hammer out this and other remaining issues. In order to expedite matters, the remainder of the preliminary hearing will be held in Toronto with an open phone link to the County.” Read article