One more challenge – Article by Rick Conroy

March 25, 2014 Borys Holowacz Latest Posts

Blanding-SmallWellington Times, March 20

Field Naturalists contend the issues at stake are too important

The Blanding’s turtles at Ostrander Point are now subject to government-sanctioned death, harrassment and harm, unless a court intervenes.

A desperate race is afoot. On one side, Gilead Power Corporation vows it will begin the levelling of Ostrander Point as soon as conditions on the site permit. On the other side, the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists are headed back to court seeking to stop the developer. Who wins this race may well impact the vitality of a distinct and rare alvar habitat, thousands of migrating birds and animals, as well as the health and enjoyment of property for those who live near this rugged bit of Prince Edward County.

Armed with a court-reinstated Renewable Energy Approval (REA), Gilead Power is free to begin clearing land, carving new roadways and preparing for the construction of nine industrial wind turbines, the first of dozens planned to be erected in South Marysburgh. Only an abundant snowfall has deterred earthmoving equipment since a divisional court overturned, last month, an Environmental Review Tribunal (Tribunal) decision to stop the project.

The developer has signalled its eagerness to begin clearing the site of vegetation in preparation of the search for and removal of any unexploded weapons that may be lodged in the soil—potential remnants of the County’s south shore history as a gunnery range during WW2.

Meanwhile, PECFN is going back to court to seek an appeal of the Divisional Court’s decision. They worry that if this decision is allowed to stand, future appeals may prove fruitless or out of reach for most citizens.

Specifically, they worry the Court has diminished the role and activities of the Tribunal and in doing so has greatly reduced environmental protection in Ontario.

In its decision, the Court ruled the Tribunal had over-reached in reviewing the permit issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources freeing the developer to “kill, harm and harass” several endangered species, including the Blanding’s turtle.

“If the reasoning of the Divisional Court decision is allowed to stand, several Tribunal standards of practice will be in question, and future citizen appeals will face increased obligations and costs,” said PECFN’s Cheryl Anderson.

HELP NEEDED MORE THAN EVER Defending Ontario’s environment against the action of its own government costs a lot of money. PECFN’s members thought long and hard about taking on yet another legal challenge. But they concluded the principles at stake were simply too great to ignore.

So PECFN is making another push for financial support. Two forthcoming events will help. In April, a Gala Dinner and Art Auction will feature the talents of Chef Michael Hoy, the wines of Prince Edward County, and auctioneering skills of Treat Hull. That event is set for Saturday, April 12 at the Picton Curling Club.

In May, True North Record’s founder Bernie Finkelstein will host an evening of conversation, discussion and the screening of a new documentary on Bruce Cockburn called Pacing the Cage. Finkelstein is described as a leading figure in Canada’s music business, managing the careers of Cockburn, Murray McLaughlin and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. An Evening with Bernie is set for May 3 at the Active Arts centre in Rednersville.

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