Decision time in the Appeal Court of Ontario – Nature Canada intervenes on behalf of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalist

December 10, 2014 Borys Holowacz Latest Posts

Ted Cheskey
Senior Manager, Bird Conservation Programs

Our very own Stephen Hazell, MSc LLB., donned his court robes and intervened on behalf of Nature Canada, in support of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists at a hearing in the highest court in Ontario on December 8. This hearing is the third in a battle between a small group of retired old ladies that are the driving force of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, backed by most of the county and Canada’s naturalist community, versus Gilead Corporation, a wind energy developer and the Ontario government’s Ministry of the Environment.   The nine turbine project is proposed on Crown land in the centre of the globally significant Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area.  The area on which the turbines are proposed is also a candidate provincial Area of Natural and Scientific Interest largely due to the presence of globally rare alvar habitat (a type of naturally occurring limestone pavement with its own communities of rare plants and insects), home to many provincial and federal species at risk including the Blanding’s Turtle and Eastern Whip-poor-will, a significant migratory route for 10,000 raptors each fall, including dozens of at-risk Golden Eagles, and within about 10 kilometres of the only Federal Government National Wildlife Area (NWA) designated for its role as a migratory landbird stop-over (Prince Edward Point NWA).   The south shore of Prince Edward County is largely an intact natural area used for passive recreation, and the last significant vestige of this type of natural habitat on the entire north shore of Lake Ontario.  In addition to its role as a stop-over for hundreds of thousands of migratory birds, the area is also an important stop-over for the threatened Monarch butterfly.  For decades local groups have been attempting to conserve the south shore through land securement.  Public lands, such as the Ostrander Crown Land Block, which was as recently as the year 2000 subject to a restoration plan by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources to establish habitat for the endangered Henslow’s Sparrow, were assumed safe from industrial projects.

With all of these attributes and after months of expert testimony and a decision of its own Environmental Tribunal in support of protecting the area, why are the Province and the developer so determined to push this project through the courts and destroy the functional value of this area for wildlife for a few turbines?    Could it be that Ostrander Point, if successful, would be a gateway to many more turbines and much larger projects on the peninsula and offshore?

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