Durham Citizens to appeal court decision on endangered species

Endangered Redside Dace: Ontario's environmental legislation is supposed to protect, not aid destruction
Endangered Redside Dace: Ontario’s environmental legislation is supposed to protect, not aid destruction

News Release from DACES/Durham Citizens for Endangered Species

The DACES (Durham Area Citizens for Endangered Species) Inc. judicial review of the MNRF (Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) was heard in Brampton, Ontario, on March 19th, 2015.

The judicial review alleged that the MNRF failed to protect sensitive endangered species habitat from wind turbine construction in a protected area of Ontario. Primarily at issue was whether the Ontario Government, through its Ministry, allowed a for-profit corporation to “self-regulate” with regards to determining whether its construction activities would harm the habitat of an endangered species, the Redside Dace.

Judgement was handed down on March 25, 2015. The Court dismissed the DACES Inc. application, on the grounds that the decision made by the MNRF did not constitute a “statutory power of decision” which the Court could review judicially.

Respectfully, DACES Inc. disagrees with this finding, as in DACES Inc.’s view, amongst other concerns, it appears to contradict the Mandate of the MNRF as stated by Premier Kathleen Wynne (detailed below).

DACES Inc. will be filing a “Leave to Appeal” application within 15 days from March 25th. It is the hope of DACES Inc. that leave will be granted, which would allow the Ontario Court of Appeal to hear DACES Inc.’s concerns. DACES Inc. firmly believes this issue is one of concern to all Ontario citizens, who share a legacy of natural heritage that deserves to be protected.

The Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO) listed the Redside Dace as endangered in 2009 under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act, 2007.  Redside Dace was assessed as endangered in Canada by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in April of 2007. The Redside Dace is currently being considered for listing as endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA)

Premier Kathleen Wynne, in her September 2014 Mandate Letter to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, included the following directive: Implementing the Endangered Species Act. I ask that you continue to implement the act in a way that protects and promotes the recovery of species at risk in Ontario.

Respectfully, the decision of the MNRF, and subsequently the Court, does not appear to be fulfilling this mandate.

DACES v Ontario-Final Decision-March 25 2015

Ontario gov’t misleads public on environmental, economic benefits of wind farms: Algoma residents

A wind turbine operates at Red Rock. The 126 turbines at Prince, 11 at Goulais and another 26 at Bow Lake, form what is referred to by opponents as the cumulative effect, impacting, the view of the natural landscape and human health and wildlife.

Wind turbine at Red Rock joins 11 at Goulais Bay and 26 at Bow Lake in despoiling Algoma environment, says community group

Sault Star, March 13, 2015

ALGOMA – The Goulais Wind Farm north of Sault Ste. Marie, is in its final stages of construction with towers and turbine blades being hoisted into place with huge cranes.

Although weather especially winds and cold has impacted this phase of the project, it will be operational this spring.

Not everyone is blown away.

Goulais River resident Gillan Richards believes the province has misinformed the public by providing them with biased information in its move to generate energy from the wind as a renewable and green resource.

“When the Ontario government decided they were going to get into big wind as a green alternative to dirty coal, which isn’t all that dirty after all, they put out these messages that have not been fair,” she said in a recent interview at her home.

If the people of Ontario decide they can endorse and live with wind farms, then that’s a democratic society at work, “but the people have never been given that opportunity, they’ve been given a biased picture of it,” said Richards.

Richards is a retired high school English teacher. As an educator she believes “it is important to present both sides of the case and let the public talk about it and decide what they can live with.”

When speaking about Northern Ontario as opposed to the south, she wonders why they would want turbines anymore than we would. Is it because the region up here is less populated?

The huge geographical region between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa, excluding Prince Township, is unorganized and without local governance.

“The difficulty here for us; I can’t think of any area, any county in Southern Ontario which is unorganized,” Richards said. “Between here and Wawa there is no organized governance.”

Unorganized townships have Local Services Boards (LSB) and Local Roads Boards (LRB), which have no allowance in the statute to become involved in electricity or its transmission.

Board members are elected by the community and have specific responsibilities, such as volunteer fire services, roads and recreation.

“But there’s nothing in the law that allows these groups to act in lieu of a municipal council,” said Richards.

Richards had attended several meetings about whether or not Goulais residents wanted recycling pick up to continue

“It became evident and they were very outspoken that they did not want to become an organized township,” Richards said. “This is something they held very dear, this is why they live here.”

She agrees with this choice fully because “we are living as close as we can to the wilderness that is left and that is what we want.”

What residents want and what they end up with could well be beyond their control if the Catherine Wynne’s government continues to push on with big wind as a renewable and sustainable resource for energy production.

Wynne said that she would allow a community council to declare itself an unwilling host to industrial wind turbine (IWT) development, “she would presumably not develop turbines in that area,” said Richards.

If a municipality declares itself an unwilling host, there is a mechanism to do that through governance, but that mechanism does not exist in the unorganized areas between Wawa and the Sault.

“What we value is the wilderness here, it’s not pristine as it’s already been mined and logged. We want to keep what’s left not just for the locals but for everyone,” she said.

The tourism industry is vital in Algoma and along the route between the Sault and Thunder Bay as many well established businesses promote the “naturally gifted” and “it’s that spectacular” beauty of the area.

“But you put industrial turbines that go 500 feet in the air and you don’t really think you are in the wilderness anymore, it’s really visually jarring,” said Richards.

“Tourism is critically important. The Sault is the gateway to the Lake Superior route and one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.”

Businesses and organizations are promoting ecotourism as a viable, year-round sustainable industry.

“All that carries absolutely zip weight with the Ontario government and the Environmental Review Tribunal … It is simply not allowable as a part of argument even though Premiere (Kathleen) Wynne says you can object,” Richards said.

“We are unorganized here in this region and can’t do that. It leaves us disadvantaged.”

Whether it be wind, hydro, solar, coal or nuclear, the consequences must be weighed, researched and followed. All energy sources have downsides, but many are terrified of nuclear, even though it has become safer, experts say.

“But they have to realize that without nuclear power backing up renewables in Ontario, there wouldn’t be sufficient power to meet consumer needs,” said Richards, who estimates almost 60% of the province’s power is produced by nuclear.

The planet does not have an infinite supply of rare metals to supply those commodities necessary for the production of solar panels. Eventually these metals will be gone because they aren’t renewable.

“The point I was trying to make is that there are actual, and potential, consequences to the environment no matter what present means of power generation are used as some resources on planet Earth are limited,” said Richards.

Educating consumers about energy conservation and financing research into power generation production which are not damaging to environment, humans and wildlife, is tantamount, she said.

“In my opinion, the Ontario government did not do its homework. In trying to correct an economic problem, it has in fact created a greater problem,’ Richards added.

Then there’s the issue of migratory creatures, such as insects, birds and bats. That is irreversible harm.

There is no migrant bird observatory between St. Joseph Island and Wawa, “or maybe Manitoulin Island, but there is evidence coming from Whitefish Point in Michigan,” said Richards.

The Whitefish Bird Observatory in Chippewa County, Mich., is a non-profit affiliate education and research facility of the Michigan Audubon Society, established in 1978.

Whitefish Point is a narrow peninsula that goes several kilometres into Lake Superior. Canada is about 27 kilometres away, but according to their website “the geography of this location makes it a natural funnel for migration.

Birds of all kinds migrate between their northern breeding grounds in Canada and their warmer wintering grounds to the south.

“It was considered out of scope and not acceptable to the tribunal,” said Richards. “Once you kill X number of birds per turbine, they’re dead and they’re gone forever,” she said, adding she believes is irreversible harm. You will never remove 500 tons of rebar and concrete per turbine and that is irreversible harm as far as I know, I don’t know how you would reverse that because even if nature in itself is destructive, we as humans do not have the right to damage the life of other creatures.”

Causing irreversible harm is unethical, she said. Soon, there will be an accumulated effect of 126 wind turbines between Prince 1 and 2, and another 11 at Goulais Wind Farm. Add another 26 at Bow Lake in Montreal River.

Richards said in her closing statement as a participant for the Environmental Review Tribunal hearing in December 2013, that a map published by consulting firm Stantec indicates proposed wind projects for Northland Lake, Heyden, Island, Ranger Lakes and Stokely Creek.

Should another development come to fruition, the Lucinda Project on the north side of Goulais Bay, it would “literally surround the residents with turbines.”

“You come to one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world and it has turbines along the coast and in the water,” Richards said.

“And if you think that’s a dead issue, think again.”

Having attended all open houses and information sessions, she said there was an overwhelming rejection of industrial wind in Algoma.

Each presenter and participant in the ERT hearing who appeared on behalf of appellant Doug Moseley, “emphasized helplessness, hopelessness, frustration and despair, associated with the building of IWT in the iconic wilderness of the Algoma District.”

Joanie and Gary McGuffin, well known adventure/photojournalists, work tirelessly to develop Algoma as a sustainable year-round ecotourism economy, argued turbines would seriously mar the landscape.

Gary has taken aerial photos of the developments “and it is visual reminder to the people that you may think not much is happening, until you see the infrastructure, roads being built.”

In the Environment Review Tribunal hearing, Karen Streich, an economist who has experience in economic development in First Nations and rural areas, said, “as long-time residents of Goulais River, both she and her husband feel their rights have been violated.”

She said the Ontario government is not heeding the plea of local people to determine their own economic destiny in a lifestyle in keeping with the rural north, and no real objective long-term assessment has been done locally.

For 32 years, Richards taught English at the former Bawating C&VS, a state-of-the-art facility closed and demolished several years ago to make way for Superior Heights C&VS.

She also worked as co-ordinator of secondary programs with Algoma District School Board.

“It was my responsibility to assist teachers to prepare their students for the Grade 10 reading and writing test,” Richards said, adding she realized that 70% of a student’s performance was not based on his or her ability to read and write but an ability to think.

“My point is that where you live can be an important factor in conditioning how you think,’ Richards said.

Many of her students came from the Heyden, Searchmont and Goulais areas.

“What I noticed over the years, and I was acutely aware that students who came from Bawating’s feeder schools, were sensitive to the features of the wilderness world they inhabited.”

They tended to be physically active, hardy, resourceful and practical.

It has been documented that proximity to IWTs can cause sleep disruption.

The issues raised in Moseley’s notice of appeal of the GWF, “are the potential health effects from exposure to infrasound, low-frequency noise, audible noise, visual impact and/or electromagnetic fields.”

“As an educator I have noted that any one, or a combination, of these factors may interfere with memory and concentration to the point where someone says, ‘I can’t hear myself think,’ ” Richards said.

Richards demonstrated the impact noise has on adolescent learners and questioned the effect of turbine noise and visual impact on “teenaged learners to concentrate, memorize and sleep.”

On April 17, 2014, ERT dismissed Moseley’s appeal of the approval of the Goulais Wind Farm. Richards said that everyone who put themselves forward as presenters, participants and expert witnesses throughout the appeal process, are not against change, but are rather looking at the fact that decisions have consequences.

Nothing is free, everything has a trade off, “and the imposition of IWTs is not a solution to the Ontario government’s perceived need to procure a greener energy and it is certainly not a solution which has its regional needs and agendas.” Richards said she believes the government’s need for green is not a solution to be imposed “on rural Ontario who’s needs and agendas have been ignored and trampled on by the Ontario government.”

Save Ontario’s Algoma Region or SOAR is a Wind Concerns Ontario community group member.

Manvers appeal dismissed

Image result for City of Kawartha Lakes

Tribunal rules in favour of wind farm

February 19,  Peterborough Examiner

A bid by an area group to stop the construction of a wind turbine facility southwest of Peterborough has failed.

Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal ruled Thursday that the appeal by Manvers Wind Concerns and Cham Shan Temple to stop the planned wind farm would not go forward.

In a 207-page written ruling, the tribunal stated that concerns raised about the facility were not enough to stop its development.

“In summary, the tribunal finds that the evidence does not demonstrate that the project will cause serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment of the traditional lands of the First Nations participants,” the ruling states, rejecting the complainants’ arguments.

Sumac Ridge Wind Inc. was granted a licence to operates a Class 4 wind facility at 801 Ballyduff Rd., Pontypool in 2012. The project is to have five turbines, with access roads, cabling and a switching station.

The appeal was filed in 2013.

Wind developer ‘pleased’

“We’re obviously pleased with the decision from the ERT,” stated Ian MacRae, president of wpd Canada, the company behind the project. “Sumac Ridge has gone through months of review and scrutiny, both through the Ministry of Environment approval process and the ERT appeal.”

The tribunal heard evidence at hearings in Pontypool, Curve Lake and Toronto on several days over the past few months – Nov. 17-20 and 24, Dec. 2-5, 9-12 and 19, and Jan. 5 and 23.

Other participants in the process included Cransley Home Farm Ltd., Hiawatha First Nation, Curve Lake First Nation, the City of Kawartha Lakes and the Save the Oak Ridges Moraine Coalition.

These opponents to the plan claimed the project would cause harm to human health, plants, animals and the environment.

Diane Chen of Cham Shan Temple told the tribunal that the wind farm would affect the under-construction temple on Ski Hill Rd. The Buddhist temple is intended to be a major tourism draw for the region once constructed, but the wind farm would lead to distraction as visitors try to meditate, she said.

The tribunal also heard from other experts who talked about the impact of the facility on groundwater and natural wildlife habitats. However, the tribunal rejected those concerns.

Testimony ‘sincere’

“While raising an important concern that the “balance of life” would be disrupted, the participants did not provide any specifics about how this would occur because of the project,” the ruling states. “Their testimony was sincere and heartfelt, but it does not constitute evidence demonstrating that the project will cause the harm they allege.”

MacRae said the project, which is expected to generate 26,497,200 kWh, will now go ahead.

Building credibility for wind power: more persuasion ahead

Orchestrating the "right" message to the people of Ontario: wind is good (and if you object, there is something wrong with you)
Orchestrating the “right” message to the people of Ontario: wind is good (and if you object, there is something wrong with you)

Previously, I reviewed the first three steps Nanos Research recommended to CanWEA for future messaging on wind energy as “cleaner, healthier and more sustainable” and “humanizing” the industry by engaging celebrities and using “children and young families” as the face and voice of the industry.

Nanos Research recommended three more steps CanWEA together with examples of past successes.

Step Four:

“Further strengthen industry-government relations through joint communications opportunities around wind-related educational programs, contests and events engaging schools, youth and young families.”

This recommendation is simply a reiteration of what CanWEA have successfully done since their inception with great success.  Examples of their success include:

  • CanWEA joined OSEA as a member.  OSEA’s predecessor, the GEAA (Green Energy Act Alliance) convinced the Liberals to develop the Green Energy Act.
  • CanWEA teamed up with Toronto Hydro to sponsor events aimed at promoting wind to kids.
  • CanWEA’s press release of September 2009 indicates the group’s relationship with the Ontario Liberal government when an announcement was made by then Energy and Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman at the opening ceremonies of CanWEA’s annual conference.  “We welcome the Ontario government’s plan to upgrade this province’s electricity grid,” said CanWEA President Robert Hornung. “This is a huge boost to the continued development of wind energy as a viable renewable energy source in Ontario. This plan opens the door for the wind industry to grow…”
  • CanWEA successfully influenced the science curriculum in schools as noted in a series of articles I wrote, “Ontario’s Green Religion.” CanWEA hosts an annual contest for students, and sponsors bursaries, as well as monitors and rewards students’ blogs.

CanWEA has already been out front to ensure their message reaches the OLP and our children; it is hard to imagine they could actually do more to strengthen their government relationships or influence “youth and young families” but we should expect renewed efforts to do so.

Step Five:

“Continue to build comfort and credibility in wind energy through creative social media products aimed primarily at diminishing public misapprehensions of wind turbines, repositioning turbines as merely the latest version of wind energy devices to have evolved over centuries of mankind’s harnessing the wind.”

This next step from Nanos is really a recommendation to continue the “spin” by ignoring issues related to: human health, killing birds and bats, unreliability and intermittent production, shadow flicker and the economic costs and creation of “energy poverty” for people on fixed incomes, with disabilities or stay at home parents.  CanWEA generally does this by insuring their supporters and their media activities focus only on the perceived “positives” about industrial wind turbines.

  • In order to foster “comfort” and “credibility” CanWEA welcomes organizations to join; a Tweet on January 26 links to a new YouTube video which extols the virtues of corporate membership.
  • Twitter has also been used in recent weeks to tout the idea that a fundamental change in thinking is occurring (“Energy shift requires a shift in conversation,” January 12) and that wind power is a positive for the economy (“Guelph emerging as leader in renewable energy sector with 2,000 jobs tied to alternative energy sources,” January 7). Again, this refers back to earlier advice to portray wind power naysayers as “backwards” and “out of touch.”
  • Pew Research recently noted in a report that 71% of adults who are regularly online use Facebook. CanWEA has a presence here too, with an adult and corporate focus. Recent posts include promotion of 2015 corporate events and news stories such as “Wind offers a healthy way to generate power” December 22, 2014.

From the foregoing it becomes obvious that the activity aimed to build “comfort and credibility” has focused on those who are already sold on the concept, so we should expect to see the focus shift to the general population with an emphasis on youth and young families.   That appears to have started as the CanWEA website has three short Fact Sheets on Health, Property Values, and Price in which it is claimed “experts” have dispelled any negatives on those issues.

No fact sheet exists to dispel bird and bat deaths caused by industrial wind turbines, but we should expect CanWEA will locate an expert to do that.  Noted in a 2012 press release: “As the Environmental Commissioner has clearly stated, wind turbines are not a major cause of bird fatalities, but the industry is working diligently to reduce and mitigate impacts. In Canada, we have partnered with the Canadian Wildlife Service, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Bird Studies Canada to create and maintain the Wind Energy Bird and Bat Monitoring Database that provides the information required to assess the impact of wind turbines and inform the development of appropriate regulatory frameworks and mitigation requirements,” said Robert Hornung, president of CanWEA.”  The database is not linked or publicly available on the CanWEA website—could it be that it shows Ontario’s kill rate of birds and bats (including several “species at risk”) is the worst in Canada?

Step Six:

 “Use survey data and benchmarking to measure progress and fine-tune the narrative, and provide the data to government and other stakeholders to further enhance support.”

This is calculated advice for CanWEA because the survey respondents were “blinkered”! A significant proportion of the respondents were city-dwellers, and many admitted they were not well-informed on wind power issues. The report failed to detail the knowledge level of respondents, or poll those who actually reside in affected communities, failed to focus on health, failed to focus on property value losses, and failed to focus on issues affecting nature.

As the Ontario government prepares to accept new applications for as much as 300 megawatts of new wind power capacity in 2015, this type of industry persuasion will continue. It will fall to those of us who care about Ontario’s rural communities and the economic health of this province to present all sides to these persuasive arguments.

©Parker Gallant

January 2015


Niagara Region Wind farm appeal: evidence shows damage to at-risk species and protected areas

The Monarch Butterfly: laws to protect it don't seem to apply to wind power development
The Monarch Butterfly: laws to protect it don’t seem to apply to wind power development

Loretta Shields, a member of Mothers Against Wind Turbines, presented at the appeal of the approval of the Niagara Region Wind Corporation wind power generation project yesterday, and outlined the many negative impacts on species at-risk, and environments such as woodlands that are supposed to be protected under Ontario legislation.

“There are so many issues,” Shields tells Wind Concerns Ontario. “For example, there is no evidence to show that winter raptor transects were conducted within the interior of the woodlands.  Sixty-two permits are required by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.  These are still pending.   There are 20 industrial wind turbines proposed in Blanding’s turtle habitat in Lowbanks, all on private property.  There are many properties within this habitat where ‘alternative investigations’ i.e., ‘roadside surveys’ were allowed.  The MNR is allowing this to proceed.”

Shields had prepared a 32-slide PowerPoint presentation for the Environmental Review Tribunal, detailing sections of Ontario legislation that ought to be applied to protect the environment and wildlife, but are being overlooked or ignored in order to allow the power development to proceed.

Shields also told WCO she was grateful to learn about the “many birds and raptors” in the project area during her investigations and audit of the wind power developer’s application documents: “a silver lining” to this event, she said.

Details on the hearing dates may be found here.

Shields’ PowerPoint presentation may be found here: Powerpoint for NRWC Appeal Jan 26

More details on what happened at the hearing may be found in this excellent report from Mothers Against Wind Turbines here with information on how to donate to this legal action .

The endangered Redside Dace:Ontario ignored its own rules on endangered species

Little (endangered) fish deserve respect, too
Little (endangered) fish deserve respect, too

A hearing is being held tomorrow, Wednesday, December 3rd in Brampton as energy giant NextEra tries for Party status in a judicial review of how the Government of Ontario approved a wind power project that will affect an endangered species of fish, the Redside Dace.

NextEra is also trying to have the hearings for the review, now scheduled for March 16, 2015, moved to Toronto. Lawyer Eric Gillespie is representing West Grey residents.

How Green Is This, would appreciate your support on behalf of the residents of West Grey … and the Redside Dace.

The hearing will begin at 10 a.m., at the Region of Peel Courthouse, 7755 Hurontario Street, Brampton.



Wind farm developer tried to hide bird death data

wind farm

Jenna Iacurci, Nature World News, November 19, 2014

It’s come to the public’s attention that a wind farm company operating in the United States filed a lawsuit last month in an attempt to hide the number of bird deaths that occurred from their energy-saving turbines.

Pacificorp of Portland, Oregon, is seeking an injunction in US District Court in Utah to prevent the Interior Department from releasing this confidential information, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Wind farms contain clusters of turbines that can reach 30 stories tall and spin up to 170 mph. With spinning rotors creating tornado-like vortexes, it’s no wonder that migratory birds, including protected species like the bald eagle, get caught in their line of fire.

Last year, a study surfaced revealing that 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats were being killed each year by wind turbines, more than 30 percent higher than federal government estimates.

This latest lawsuit suggests that that may be in part due to companies like Pacificorp trying to keep their real wind farm birds deaths under wraps.

When the government informed Pacificorp and other similar companies last month of their intent to release this information, Pacificorp then retaliated with a lawsuit filed on Oct. 17. It argued that keeping the number of bird deaths secret was actually in the public’s best interest because it will promote “open communication,” the AP reports, between it and the government.

However, the government deemed this excuse as “insufficiently convincing.”

It’s been reported that at least 20 eagle carcasses have been found on Pacificcorp wind farms in Wyoming in recent years – and that’s just on one farm. Dozens more deaths have occurred in California, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Nevada as well.

The dangers of wind turbines to birds – as well as bats, which confuse them for trees – is not a new issue. Back in May the American Bird Conservatory announced its intent to file a lawsuit when the federal government granted wind farm companies 30-year permits to kill eagles without legal repercussions.

Read the full story here.

Grand Valley 3rd phase approved: concerns about Luther Marsh

The Luther Marsh is an Important Bird Area, 10 km from Grand Valley Phase 3. But...wind is green, wind is good.
The Luther Marsh is an Important Bird Area, 10 km from Grand Valley Phase 3. But…wind is green, wind is good.

Orangeville Banner, October 15, 2014

More wind turbines are going to be built in Grand Valley and Amaranth.

The Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has approved the third phase of the Grand Valley Wind Farms project, which will see a 40 MW wind farm operating in the area when construction is complete.

According to the Renewable Energy Approval (REA), Grand Valley Wind Farms Inc. has been gained permission to construct and operate up to 16 wind turbines and a 45 MVA (million volt-ampere) transformer in Grand Valley and Amaranth.

Veresen Inc., the developing partner of the Grand Valley Wind Farms, has been given a period of three years to connect the entire 40 MW facility to the grid.

Grand Valley Wind Farms Inc. applied for REA approval earlier this year and received it on Wednesday (Oct. 15).

Any residents of Ontario wishing to appeal the decision to the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) must submit written notice within 15 days of the REA approval.

“After a comprehensive review and consultation, the ministry has approved Grand Valley Wind Farms Phase 3 wind project in Dufferin County,” MOE spokesperson Kate Jordan said in an email. “Many of the conditions, including the requirement for a traffic management plan, noise requirements and the requirement to create an emergency response and communications plan address comments we heard from the public and Town of Grand Valley.”

Those opposing the proposal cited concerns relating to noise, health, water, safety, loss of property values and farmland, among many other issues. Some of those commenting in opposition cited the project’s proximity to the Luther Marsh Wildlife Area as a concern.

The Luther Marsh, which is considered a provincially significant wetland, is home to more than 250 bird species, several of which are considered endangered, threatened or at risk.

Some of those bird species of concern listed by those opposing the plan include bald eagles, white egrets, peregrine falcon, red-shouldered hawk and bobolink, among many others.

Officials with the province’s Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) had the developer to complete an Environment Effects Monitoring Plan (EEMP) for bird and bat monitoring. The REA approval requires Grand Valley Wind Farms to implement the mitigation and monitoring methods as outlined in that plan.

“The project is not located in the marshland but the Ministry of Natural Resources did review and confirm the natural heritage assessment work completed by the developer,” Jordan added.

To view the REA decision, click here.

Read the full story here.

Ontario: insult to injury over the environment

The Ontario government published a news release today in which it claimed it is helping communities “restore” the environment, and also that complaints to its “Spills Line” are being responded to and resolved.

This is a cruel joke for those Ontario communities watching the destruction of the landscape, the altering of waterways and killing of wildlife for the sake of highly invasive wind power generation facilities. Ontario residents are told that if they have a concern about excessive noise they are to call the Ministry of the Environment Spills Line. Those who do, are less than satisfied with the response. The reports from the community on the noise from turbines is NOT included in the Ministry’s annual report on calls made to the Spills Line. There is no transparency or accountability—this has been made clear in various Environmental Review Tribunals, where Environment staff have actually testified that if the computer modelling supplied by the power developer says it “isn’t possible” for a turbine to make noise above a certain level, then they don’t even check the complaint.

Worse, the legislation has been written in such a way that noise complaints will never result in government action.

Here is the news release:

Helping Communities Restore and Protect the Environment

Ontario Supporting Community-based Environmental Projects

Ontario is using penalties collected from environmental violations to fund 12 community projects to restore and protect the environment.

Projects include restoring river banks by planting native trees and plants, protecting ecosystems from invasive species and undertaking environmental health assessments.

The Ontario Community Environment Fund supports environmental improvement projects in the watershed where a violation happened. Environmental penalties are issued to industries that have spilled a contaminant into the environment or that did not comply with regulatory requirements.

Protecting our watersheds is good for the environment and good for the economy and is a key part of the government’s economic plan to invest in people, create jobs, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate.

Quick Facts

  • Applications are now being accepted for the next round of Ontario Community Environment Fund grants. Applications for funding will be accepted until November 5, 2014.
  • In 2013, $113,781.20 was collected and added to the Ontario Community Environment Fund.
  • Eligible groups can apply for more than $161,208 available across 15 communities where penalties were collected.


Glen R. Murray

“The Ontario Community Environment Fund invests in communities. It builds capacity for our schools, municipalities, conservation authorities, First Nations and Métis communities to take action to improve the environment in areas where a spill or violation has happened.”

Glen R. Murray

Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

Contact the Ministry here.

Reports may be filed with the Ill Wind Reporting website here.

Road construction Manitoulin Island (courtesy Ray Beaudry)
Road construction Manitoulin Island (courtesy Ray Beaudry)

ERT wind farm testimony: Environment officials not doing their job




Here is a report from Loretta Shields on testimony given at the appeal of the HAF wind power project by Vineland Power (IPC Energy); the hearings began on Monday this week.

For those of you that were not able to make it, Ministry officials from Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and also the Ministry of Natural Resources  were questioned and cross examined during the last two days.  A representative with the Environmental Assessment firm was also cross examined today.  Here is the damning testimony that we learned:

1.  The Ministry of Environment does not verify set back distances of the wind turbines.  They trust the wind proponent (but the turbines did not meet the required set back distances!)

2.  The Ministry of Natural Resources does not verify either the presence or absence of natural features.  For example, the size of woodlands were inaccurate in the Natural Heritage assessment report and no one at the MNR verified this.  They are not careful to review the relevant documents and corresponding versions of those documents.

3.  The Tribunal Chair identified training gaps with the environmental assessor that authored the Natural Heritage Assessment report.

So we have a problem with training, verification, process control with both Ministries and the environmental assessment firm.

Please email the ministries and show your concern.  If you have property within 120 meters of either a proposed industrial wind turbine, collector line or transmission line, please let them know that we learned that there are verification issues, training issues and process control issues.  Demand that they review the NRWC project in relation to your property to determine whether significant natural features exist and require mitigation measures.  If you live within the HAF project location, demand that they review the project in its entirety.  The HAF Renewable Energy Approval documents now lack the required integrity to provide the people in our Community with assurances that other components of the project were investigated in accordance with the REA Regulation. If you don’t live within 120 meters, please write to voice your concerns. Because once this is approved, it is a tougher battle, and time is running out!

This is so NOT right.  This is NOT how civil servants serve the people in our Community.  This is NOT how a Ministry protects our natural features.

Please help with this fight. If you could write/email in the next day or two, it would be so much appreciated.

1.  Eric Boysen, Renewable Energy Director, Ministry of Natural Resources eric.boysen@ontario.ca

2.  Agatha Garcia-Wright, Director, Renewable Energy Approvals, agatha.garcia-wright@ontario.ca

3.  Copy:  Andre Marin, Ombudsman for Ontario info@ombudsman.on.ca

4.  Copy:  Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner for Ontario  commissioner@eco.on.ca