March 9th, 2016
Environmental Commissioner of Ontario
1075 Bay St #605,
Toronto, ON M5S 2B1
I’m writing today to bring to your attention a situation which is developing in my riding. Last month, an Environmental Review Tribunal ruled that a 29 turbine project proposed for the South shore of Prince Edward County would cause irreversible harm to two species at risk. However, in spite of the ruling, the proponents – WPD Canada – is preparing to clear brush and trees from the site starting on March 14th. Their argument is that the ruling pertains only to the operation of the site and not its construction.
WPD and the appellants in Prince Edward County have a hearing planned to determine if remedial measures are possible for the ecosystem on the South shore. It is my understanding that the government has established these tribunals to ensure that the environment is protected and has set a high bar for appellants seeking to stop projects. The people of Prince Edward County, however, have been successful twice.
This speaks to the unique nature of the ecosystem along the South Shore of the County that projects originally touted for their environmental benefit, have proven too damaging for that location. If the proponent was proposing any other type of energy project for the South Shore, and began construction in spite of a negative ruling by the ERT, it is difficult to envision that the government would take anything but a dim view of those actions.
My request is that you inform the government on ways it can strengthen its ERT process going forward but also that you help them work to ensure a neutral process that isn’t ignored by proponents in favour of extended litigation which simply benefits the deepest pockets.
Todd Smith, MPP