Rare barn owls near proposed Boralex Port Ryerse wind farm, appeal hearing told

A barn owl, similar to the one shown above, was spotted in Port Ryerse this summer. The bird is on the endangered species list. Its presence has forced a five-month moratorium on wind farm project proposed to go up near where the owl was spotted. (QMI Agency File Photo)
MNR biologist had concerns about nesting site and fatalities
Simcoe Reformer, November 3, 2015http://www.simcoereformer.ca/2015/11/03/owl-nest-found-near-proposed-turbine-site-tribunal-hears
A nest belonging to the endangered barn owl was found with an eggshell inside it next to a proposed site for wind turbines in Port Ryerse, an environmental hearing heard Tuesday.
The nest was located inside a sawmill where a pair of owls – they are on the endangered species list – had been spotted earlier, the Environmental Review Tribunal was told.
But because the bird has not been seen in the area for more than a year, the northern edge of the lakeside village has lost its official habitat status for the owl.
The one-year lapse means the company, Boralex, is no longer required to come up with a plan to create new habitat in the area for the owl before it can start building.
Boralex wants to construct four wind turbines 99.5 metres in height on farmland just north and east of the village.
Port Ryerse residents have strenuously opposed the project, warning it will ruin their quaint village and their health, and lead to declines in property values.
They are still trying to stop it and went to the tribunal in June where they argued against turbines on health grounds. The tribunal ruled against them.
On Tuesday, their lawyer, Graham Andrews of Toronto, was in front of the tribunal suggesting the project should be halted for environmental reasons – because of the damage it could do to the unique wildlife around the village, including turtles, bald eagles, and especially the barn owl.
The barn owl is so rare about one nest every five years is found in Ontario, testified Chris Risley, a biologist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
Risley, who was involved in assessing Boralex’s application for special permission to build, said he had concerns the nesting site at the sawmill was only 18 metres from a road heavy trucks will use to get to the turbine sites during construction.
“One of the possible situations is a barn owl could be killed by hitting the turbine blades, and that was not considered,” Risely added.
The barn owl’s habitat, he said, includes a one-mile radius around a nesting site. In the case of Port Ryerse, the birds would be looking to “forage” for food in the surrounding grasslands, some of which, he noted, would be lost due to construction.
Under cross-examination by Jonathan Kahn, lawyer for Boralex, Risely acknowledged he is only one of about half a dozen biologists in the ministry who were involved in the Port Ryerse case.
Earlier on Tuesday, Port Ryerse resident Suzanne Andrews testified and expressed concern about the safety of bald eagles in the area that will now have to fly past “monoliths” on their way from their nests to the lake.
Tribunal chair Justin Duncan will hand down his decision by Dec. 15.
Daniel R. Pearce

What's your reaction?


  • Sommer
    Posted November 6, 2015 10:01 am 0Likes

    This whole story is so sickening!
    I’m still having flashbacks from seeing the look on the faces of my sensitive grandchildren when they saw a fox, in broad daylight, trying to drag a bird with a wingspan of half a meter, directly under a turbine a few weeks ago.
    We’ve always scanned the skies for sitings out here. As of this past spring, the turbines that were sited too close to hundreds of acres of heritage bush, with a river flowing through it are in operation. This is our neighbourhood.
    We see flocks of birds getting caught in the mesmerizing effect near the turbines, and can’t bear to watch them being hit by the blades.
    When will this environmentally destructive madness end?

    • Barbara
      Posted November 6, 2015 1:48 pm 0Likes

      Take photos if possible as records have to be made for proof.

  • Tracy
    Posted November 7, 2015 12:20 pm 0Likes

    Good morning,
    These are again, horrific accounts of the devastation caused by iwts.
    The government disregards a concern for human health; I expect the same attitude regarding wildlife.
    The tribunal process, as we are aware, was designed to support the government. The game has been played over and over again with no success. The process is useless. The same information has been brought to the forefront time and time again. It’s beginning to sound like a broken record. The government doesn’t care. All this is doing is buying time and depleting financial resources.
    If you were guaranteed that the wildlife would experience no harm what so ever, let’s say the birds and animals could be relocated to a safe environment; would you be content with living within close proximity to a wind turbine? Then what?
    We must present a case, holding the government to be accountable and transparent; and to provide emergency assistance to the people who are currently experiencing harmful health effects.
    How do we do this? A start would be to trash this dictated tribunal process and focus time, energy, finances and expertise in another approach. How do we do this? That’s a good question. Maybe decommissioning the turbines ourselves would be a place to start. This is as illegal as are the current actions taken by the government. What they have done is against our constitution.
    Step it up and get serious. Whether you like to hear it or not, this is a life and death situation.
    What I am saying is we must be serious and assertive in a non violent way. The harm brought to the people is not acceptable. It must be stopped.

  • Tracy
    Posted November 11, 2015 4:34 pm 0Likes

    A scenario:
    Let’s say someone is standing in the field behind my house, shooting a gun at me; in close enough proximity that it could harm or kill me. This person continues to shoot at me because he can.
    In order to stop this and protect myself, I must take the ammunition, and would do so in a non violent way. In my efforts to take tge ammunition and protect myself, would I be considered guilty of an act of violence? Call me a nimby 😉
    Another scenario: I have an IWT >400 meters from my home. It is obvious the emissions make me very sick, yet the turbine is permitted to continue to operate. In order to live safely and free of the negative health issues created by the iwts, it is required that the turbines stop, or actually, that they are removed. (When out in the yard and the turbines were not turning, I received a significant shock when I touched our trampoline…stray voltage.)
    This act would be considered an act of violence in the court of law? I am expected to live in a toxic environment when I live at my home of many years, a home I had prior to the development of turbines!?!
    Where’s our constitution? “Freedom to live safely in our homes.”
    Happy Veterans’ Day.
    The wind company should have expropriated my home. They did not. I personally communicated to CEO of wind company Mike Crawley (former Pres. Federal Liberal Party), while in Clear Creek, my health issues. He did not respond to my concerns at all.
    I need help. I need to be fully compensated for the damage he has caused me.
    Mr. Justin Trudeau, I expect every Canadian to be treated as you have treated the refugees coming into our country. HELLO. Walk the talk JT. Anyone have an empty house or a cottage available where I can live safely while paying the mortgage on my home of many years, that now sits empty? Make the right choices as promised. Leave a legacy for your children unlike that of Dalton McGuinty. Hopefully pal Crawley has not sucked you down to the likes of the scum sucking Liberals of the past…you may find yourself as cell mates in the end.. It will all come out in the wash.

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