ERT under way with ministry staff on stand — Day One of Reconvened Hearings — from

October 28, 2015 Borys Holowacz Latest Posts

Article by Sue Capon, Oct 27, 2015

ERT being held in Ameliasburgh Tuesday and Wednesday and moves back to Demorestville on Friday.

A full house attended the opening day of the second round of a three-day Environmental Review Tribunal to consider remedy to mitigate destruction of habitat and loss of Blandings turtles.

The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) is facing industrial wind turbine developer Gilead Power Corporation continuing its case for nine industrial wind turbines at Ostrander Point, on the southern shore of Prince Edward County.

Three days of hearings ended Sept. 4 after ministry witness Joe Crowley stated his early advice was to not allow the granting of the “kill harm and harass” Endangered Species Act permit because the project’s roads would prove a risk to the site’s Blandings turtles. PECFN counsel Eric Gillespie requested documentation.

The tribunal’s two-person panel, lawyers Robert Wright and Heather Gibbs issued an order for MNRF witnesses to produce all papers and electronic correspondence to date relating to roads and Blandings turtles and the renewable energy approved project and site.

Wright and Gibbs presided over the 2013 ERT which was held over 40 days, had 185 exhibits and testimony of 31 expert witnesses.

Tuesday started with the continuation of the cross examination of Joe Crowley, a species expert with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. His expertise is in amphibians and reptiles, specifically Blanding’s turtles.

ERT-binders-infoGillespie took Crowley through the released documents to determine what his role had been in the issuance of the permit to “kill harm and harass” species at risk at Ostrander Point.

In response to Gibbs’ question seeking clarification about ballpark figures on turtle population Crowley stated “If we really wanted to know about the abundance of turtles we would have to count them for a few years.”

The audience rumbled quietly with “Good idea” and “Let’s do it”.

Following a break for a late lunch, Karen Bellamy, a manager with the Peterborough MNRF, took the stand at 2:30 p.m. Arguments about whether she would be qualified as an expert witness on Blanding’s turtles or on a witness of fact only ensued. Much time was spent on documents disclosed as a result of the Tribunal’s order and also on documents disclosed as a result of Freedom of Information requests made by South Shore Conservancy and PECFN.

At 5:45 pm the Tribunal ruled that Bellamy would be qualified as a witness of fact, but not as an expert witness on Blanding’s turtle.

The tribunal continues Wednesday, beginning at 9:30 a.m. again at the Ameliasburgh Township Hall. There is no hearing Thursday. Friday the hearing continues at the Demorestville Town Hall.

Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change approval for the Ostrander Point project was issued Dec. 20, 2012.

“Over the past almost three years, we have worked through the ERT appeal, the resulting Divisional Court counter appeal and the subsequent hearing at the Appeal Court of Ontario which resulted in the order to return the matter to the ERT to hear the issue of remedy,” said Cheryl Anderson, of PECFN. “We have stood fast with the help and support of many donors and friends throughout Prince Edward County and beyond.”

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