April 15 ERT Report

April 15, 2013 admin Latest Posts

ERT tribunal recesses for 10 days

Rain added to the gloom in Demorestville on April 12.  The PECFN witnesses having concluded their testimony on April 9, it is the turn of Gilead witnesses to take the stand.

Andrew Taylor and Nicole Kopysh from Stantec described the field work they had undertaken to prepare the Natural Heritage Assessment and Environmental Impact Study for the Ostrander Point project.  Acknowledging that 5.2 ha of alvar would be destroyed by the project, Andrew Taylor described the proposed mitigations: converting meadow lands to alvar and enhancing the small amount of alvar left after destruction of the site by removing buckthorn shrubs.  Since the project has been given a permit to kill, harm and harass the endangered species Whip-poor-will and Blanding’s Turtle, Nicole Kopysh was asked about the purchase of additional property within the species normal habitat as compensation for destruction of other parts of the habitat.

 

Balance of report is the first part of a comprehensive report by Henri Garand, condensed by Cheryl Anderson

PECFN Cross-Examination

PECFN lawyer Eric Gillespie queried the ERT panel about what was now in evidence.  Stacking up the binders which contained Stantec’s reports, he asked whether such brief testimony had indeed introduced the foot-high pile of documents or were reports like the bat study off the table.  He said there was no scientific evidence in support of Ms. Kopysh’s opinions about the likelihood of recreating habitats and relocating species. Nor was there any scientific basis for Mr. Taylor’s opinions, especially since he was not a qualified expert.

 

Gilead’s Doug Hamilton replied that all the documents were “proven in evidence.”  He pointed out that PECFN’s witnesses had commented on Stantec data.

 

The ERT panel asked Hamilton to identify specific documents, of which he listed half a dozen.

Mr. Gillespie asked whether the material before the Tribunal included the scientific references cited in Stantec reports.

The ERT panel ruled that the references were not part of the record unless they were written by witnesses.

Mr. Gillespie then proceeded to cross-examine Ms. Kopysh and Mr. Taylor, limiting his questions to the Natural Heritage Assessment, the only report which they had signed.  He drew attention to an Environment Canada letter identifying Ostrander Point as “one of the best habitats” and a Level 4, or “high risk,” category of concern for the potential impacts of wind turbines on birds. He asked Mr. Taylor to agree on the uniqueness of Ostrander Point as a peninsula.

Turning to Mr. Taylor’s report on raptors, Mr. Gillespie questioned the comparisons with well-known “hawk watch” sites, specifically Cranberry Marsh near Oshawa, where a high number of raptors have been recorded during fall migrations.  Taylor’s report compared the records for only 12 days’ observations in 2006 and 2009.  For the 2006 period there were 591 birds at Ostrander Point and 1732 at Cranberry Marsh; however, 1240 birds at the Marsh were seen on a single day due to species like Turkey Vulture travelling in “kettles,” or large flocks.  Mr. Gillespie argued that a more realistic comparison was 591 to 492.

Mr. Gillespie also pointed out there were fewer hours of observation at Ostrander Point.  Then he asked Mr. Taylor to consider seasonal comparisons, based on extrapolating the data, which showed that Ostrander Point could have totals of 15-16,000 raptors during each fall migration.  Mr. Taylor objected to the mathematical calculation but conceded that the longer time spent in field observation, the higher the totals.

 

Mr. Gillespie asked Mr. Taylor whether he was familiar with the classification standards for Important Bird Areas.  He confirmed he did not know that the presence of 10,000 or more raptors justifies a classification of “national significance.”

Mr. Gillespie then turned to Ms. Kopysh to confirm the presence of swallow and grassland species at Ostrander Point. She agreed that these included Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, Rusty Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, and Bobolink.  All are species with declining populations.

 

Mr. Gillespie abruptly terminated the cross-examination in mid-afternoon, announcing that he was “saving the balance of his questions for other witnesses.”

 

Gilead Power’s Re-Examination

Doug Hamilton asked Mr. Taylor to agree that the “passage rates” for raptors at Ostrander Point were similar to those at Cranberry Marsh.  Mr. Taylor added, however, that more hours for surveying resulted in more birds recorded.

 

ERT Panel’s Questions

Co-chair Heather Gibbs asked who was reviewing the Alvar Management Plan for the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Co-chair Robert Wright asked whether only the Consultation Report dealt with Cumulative Impacts.  Mr. Taylor explained they were not in the Natural Heritage Assessment because the Renewal Energy Approval process does not require it.

 

Adjournment

With no other witnesses available, the ERT panel adjourned the hearing until Wednesday, April 24, 10 a.m.


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