OPAF Update — December 30, 2013

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OPAF Update

By Myrna Wood December 30, 2013

In August, Gilead Power and the Ministry of the Environment appealed the decision in which the Environmental Review Tribunal revoked the approval of the wind project at Ostrander Point Crown Land.

This counter appeal will be heard by the Divisional Court in Toronto starting on January 21.

An appeal of a Tribunal decision can only be based on questions of law. In their appeals, Gilead and the MOE take the position that the Tribunal erred in not recognizing the precedence of the Endangered Species permit to harm and kill the Blanding’s turtle. We are responding to the appeals with a “cross-appeal” to broaden the Tribunal’s decision to include serious and irreversible harm to birds and the alvar, not just Blanding’s turtles.

The South Shore IBA has been invaluable as a crucial stop to rest and feed for millions of birds migrating every spring over Lake Ontario on their way to nest in Canada’s Boreal Forest.  In fall it is the staging area for those birds and their offspring as well as thousands of raptors waiting to cross the lake as well as for bats (in severe decline with White Nose disease) and Monarch butterflies who can find the milkweed and nectar sources they have lost elsewhere from widespread pesticide use.

All these creatures depend on this imperilled Alvar site as the last undeveloped wildlife habitat on the northern shore of Lake Ontario.  This is why PECFN will be defending the Tribunal decision on Blanding’s Turtle and also asking the Divisional Court to extend legal protection to the Alvar and birds.

Recently Gilead Power and the MOE made a motion to the Court to present ‘New Evidence’ in its appeal.  The new evidence consists of an agreement by the MNR to lease Gilead land on which they will construct access road.  The lease will allow Gilead to close the road to public use from May to October.  Gilead has been trying to frame the Tribunal decision as only concerned with road mortality to the turtle.  This is why it is important for PECFN to inform the Court that the Tribunal said that the company’s proposed mitigation measures were totally inadequate on the site or on the so-called ‘compensation property’ (the other half of the Blanding’s turtle habitat that Gilead purchased in 2010).

In its application for tenure over the access road, Gilead expressed as its reasons: its investments, future financing, legal control over access to its turbines and potential liability to the company and MNR.  None of these reasons show any concern for the welfare of the turtle. PECFN will be objecting to their request to include the new evidence.

PECFN is confident that the Divisional Court will uphold the Environmental Review Tribunal’s decision to Save Ostrander Point.  Many members and supporters are making plans to attend the hearing and donations are coming to help pay for our legal bills. Thank you to all for your on-going support.

We will continue to keep you updated on this fiasco as we spend our second Christmas holiday season fighting to Save Ostrander Point.

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