Revelations shock Ostrander Point ERT
MNR manager accused of being advocate for power developers, not the environment
October 29, 2015–
The appeal of the wind power project at Ostrander Point, on Prince Edward County’s South Shore, an Important Bird Area, and home to the endangered Blandings Turtle, continued yesterday in Ameliasburgh, where revelations from the Ministry of Natural Resources witnesses shocked those attending.
Here is a report from the Appellant, the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN):
This day was spent in arguments. It began with a motion from Eric Gillespie to demand the release of all the documents from Joe Crowley and Karen Bellamy. The MOECC witnesses had previously been requested to release documents; however, it became evident during Ms Bellamy’s witness qualification that some documents released by freedom of information requests had not been released as a result of the Tribunal order and then it seemed that other documents that should have been released were not.
The question of the release of these documents was argued almost through the entire day.
The other matter of contention was exactly what Ms. Bellamy was allowed to be examined about. The Tribunal had made a decision that Ms. Bellamy’s evidence would only be related to fact. No opinions could be part of her evidence. As a result it was necessary to go through her whole witness statement to make a decision about which items would be heard and which would not be heard.
Finally, at about 4:20 pm the examination of Ms. Bellamy began. Ms. Bellamy responded to questions from Ms. Kromkamp of the MOECC about the Impact Monitoring Plan, Adaptive Management and the Endangered Species Act all as they related to the permits for Ostrander Point. With a brief break at 5 pm so that Eric Gillespie could postpone a previously arranged teleconference Ms. Bellamy was on the stand until 6 pm. Her cross examination by Mr. Gillespie and Mr. Paliere of South Shore Conservancy will proceed when the Tribunal resumes.
The Tribunal was adjourned until such time as the documents are released and counsel has an opportunity to look at them. The decision about whether to resume the hearing on Friday will be made in a teleconference tomorrow. [Thursday October 29]
So the issues here are:
- why did the MOECC and the MNR not release documents, when they were directed to do so by the Environmental Review Tribunal panel? They were only caught out in this because citizens had spent money to do Freedom of Information requests, and possessed important and relevant information.
- Bellamy, an executive with the MNR, revealed that the MNR was aware of the advice of at-risk species expert Joe Crowley but chose to ignore it; she appears to have acted alone to determine to give a permit for the power project, but received “thanks” from the MOECC for helping push the power project through. (The relationship between the MNR and the power developer was apparently so cosy that questions were raised as to whether Ms Bellamy had a “personal relationship” with the contact person for the wind power developer, due to the nature of the emails revealed.)
- Lawyer Eric Gillespie accused Karen Bellamy of not acting as an advocate for the environment and wildlife as she is supposed to do but rather, acting as an advocate for the proponent.
- Mr Gillespie also accused the MOECC of stringing out the proceedings and not producing relevant documents over the course of three years and now five separate legal hearings. Costs to the appellants will be an issue, he said.
- Will the revelations here have an impact on other appeals held in the past, where documentation was also not produced or revealed to the Tribunal?
Ostrander Point, once all about a little turtle, now shares concerns with the lawsuit by Mesa Power vs Canada, in which it is alleged that the government contracting process for wind power is “arbitrary” and political; issues such as the role of the MOECC’s so-called “iterative process” (in which the Ministry and the wind power proponent work together to make changes to the project so it can proceed, often without public oversight or notice, as in the Gunn’s Hill project) are also being called into question.
It was not certain on Wednesday whether the proceedings would resume as planned, but in a teleconference held Thursday afternoon, the Parties decided the hearing will continue on Friday, October 30, in Demorestville.
To support this critical legal action, please go to www.saveostranderpoint.org