It was a waiting game for islanders who came out to see what response legal counsel’s for the Frontenac Islands Tim Wilkin, Canadian Hydro (CREC) Peter Birmingham , Township Planner Bob Clark would make that could satisfy the appellants Dr. James Day and Sarah McDermott represented by Lawyer Peggy Smith. Their appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) related to the premature passage of Zoning By-law (Nov.2006) for the Wind Plant on Wolfe Island in advance of the Environmental Screening Report (ESR).
The bylaw allows CREC to build 86 turbines at the western end of the island and define their setbacks from buildings, roads, wetlands. The appellants contend that these setbacks are not enough. Would the issues be solved amicably? Could islanders resolve their differences?
But on day one of the hearing which brought OMB member Marc C. Denhez to the island, residents and witnesses on both sides of the issue sat apart at Sacred Heart school.
Addressing Denhez, Township counsel Tim Wilkin, outlined the process to date (official plan, zoning by-law amendment, holding provision, release of draft Environmental Review report by CREC). “There is no indication in the appeal that council did not adhere to the planning act,” he said. He had concerns however with appellants’ witnesses statements, and asked for a motion (not granted) to exclude evidence not related to the appeal (ERR, conduct of council, new issues about life and property). He said there had been no appeal of the Official Plan amendment but environmental issues required a longer process which led to passing the zoning bylaw amendment and holding provision in advance of the Environmental screening report. “All done in full accord with the planning process,” Wilkin said.
Lawyer Smith said,” it was never our (the appellants) intention to stop an island wind plant.” Smith asked, “was the passage of the zoning bylaw, allowing the development to move forward premature?” The bylaw set minimum turbine setbacks (350 metres) from homes, roads etc. The appellants, McDermott and Day in their notice of appeal to the OMB wanted the township to rescind the bylaw. Denhez frequently reminded the lawyers of OMB considerations.
Smith did not agree that testimony from her witnesses would include information outside the appeal’s focus, but after the lawyers consulted, four of her witnesses were excused. “It is not my intent to delay proceeding,” she said.
Planner Bob Clark stated what had happened from 2004 regarding wind farm plans by CREC and GAIA Power, to today’s Canadian Hydro Developers Project Documents and maps were available. And that, was day one.
On day 2 of the OMB hearing, following procedural matters regarding witnesses, Ms. Smith with McDermott seated beside her, outlined a series of requirements contained in the planning act and posed the following questions: was there sufficient information at the public meeting: to allow appeal? to determine whether the zoning bylaw complied with official plan? Did the township ensure compliance with official policy statement? “This appeal,” she said, “ is about good planning under the planning act. If the bylaw was premature is everything protected (grassland, birds, natural heritage feature) with the holding designation? Expert witnesses will provide those facts.”
Smith said rescinding the zoning bylaw was an extreme remedy that would send the bylaw back through the planning process. “My clients are willing to consider alternatives like amending the zoning bylaw.” A consideration she said had been touched upon with the other lawyers. If this were to be agreed upon Smith suggested that public meetings for a new zoning bylaw take place after the Environmental Screening report is released to the public.
With this new “sidebar” it seemed a break was in order for ‘lawyer talk’. However Smith called her first witness, Sheila Allan, acting head of the Environmental Assessment Branch of Environment Canada. Through questioning it became clear that Environment Canada is involved in the project through its different departments and agencies. Wolfe Island is identified as a sensitive area for grassland birds, song birds, water fowl other wetland birds owls and raptors, Allan said, ”we have an obligation to protect migratory birds. and have been fully engaged with the provincial process and will be with the Federal. It is reasonable to assume we will continue to advise.”
The meeting adjourned to reconvene at 1:45 pm. However it was 4:15 before Solicitor Tim Wilkin arrived to say that the lawyers and all, were meeting privately, that there was no agreement and for people to go home. During the long wait, chairs had been re-arranged and spectators were mingling and talking together. That was day 2.
After a long wait at 3pm on Day 3 Solicitor Wilkin announced that the parties had arrived a settlement and a modified zoning bylaw had been passed by council that will deal with environmental issues through the Environmental Screening Review (ESR) process, before the holding symbol is removed.
As Miss Smith read from the settlement which seeks an early OMB decision and no order until the ESR is completed and calls for the establishment of a 4 member Community Liaison Group, a look around the room said it all. There were those openly weeping and smiles from even the most stoic.
The settlement includes references to turbine shadow flicker, icing safety and maintenance aviation lighting etc., setback increases from 350 metre to 600 to village residential, public and separate schools, a 120 metre separation from wetlands, 400 metres for sensitive receptors (home for aged, hospital).
The project is for 86 turbines only and Canadian Hydro (CREC) will request deletion of the holding designation on Simcoe Island and lands not needed for turbines or accessory buildings. The ERR will contain all siting elements of all the towers.
Planner Bob Clark reviewed the zoning bylaw changes line by line. In turn OMB’s Marc Denhez accepted the agreement which he will include in his decision. “I approve in principle what has been going on. I commend you all on your ability to reach a decision. You have connected the dots and I take my hat off to you.”
Are their still major concerns about the environment?. Yes, both Dr. Day and Ms McDermott believe there are. Will those concerned,continue to remain vigilant?. As WIRE member Gail Kenney said, “We are happy with this outcome but it is just the first step.” Will Canadian Hydro take heed ? Yes. As CREC’s Lawyer Birmingham said, “we have a much better understanding of each others positions.” Was this good for the community? Yes, if only to heal some hurts.
Well known Wolfe Island resident Maureen Lollar was the recipient of Frontenac Islands 1st Annual Volunteer of the Year Award.
Mayor Jim Vanden Hoek presented the award at the regular meeting of council which had drawn a large crowd including many of Maureen’s family members, for whom there was standing room only outside on the steps of the town hall. “Sometimes council meetings are not just business but good things as well,” the mayor said “Presenting this Volunteer Award to Maureen happens to be one of those occasions. “
He went on to describe Maureen’s ongoing involvement in the community where she was born and raised. President of Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic Women’s League, member of the CWL Diocesan Council, the Wolfe Island Women’s Institute as well as 2nd Vice President of the District Council of the Women’s Institute, & District Coordinator of the ROSE programs, founding member and president of the Scene of the Crime Festival, Coordinator of Wolfe Island’s Remembrance Day Service, coordinator of WIBTA’s Annual Photo Contest, member of the Sacred Heart School Council as well as Sacred Heart of Mary Parish Council.
In his tribute to her the Mayor remarked that he has known her all his life and when something is happening to promote Wolfe Island you can be sure that Maureen will be involved contributing, not only time, ideas and effort, but also preparing and coordinating good food. (She was associated with food guru Bonnie Stern for some 20 years, and at Chatelaine in Toronto.) She is employed at Dansk in Kingston.
A totally surprised Ms Lollar accepted the award joyfully “not just for myself but for all the people in the community who volunteer along with me. This is beautiful,” she said.
“I grew up here, one of 14 children and although I have travelled the world, there is no place like the island. In that word community is Unity and that’s Wolfe Island,” she said. Maureen was feted by many friends and family following the presentation.
At the same meeting, Margaret Knott received the Municipality’s Senior of the Year Award in recognition of contributions to the community after age 65.
It was a full house at the recent Frontenac Islands council meeting where once again the proposed Wolfe Island Wind Plant took up much of the agenda. Two Island residents were there to speak in favour of the project, two others to question it. Present also were Township Solicitor, Tim Wilkin and Planner Bob Clark.
Mayor Vanden Hoek set the meeting standards, announcing that he was looking for order and decorum, no more abusive comments directed at staff and council members, that loud outbursts would not be tolerated during the presentations and any could result in adjournment.
First up, former councillor Jim Calvin said “a substantial amount of money will impact the 50 to 60 extended families who will be hosting wind turbines,” pointing to an island map and naming a few, “ Sjongers, Pykes, Hulton’s, O’Shea’s , Broeders. Is there a tougher piece of gristle on the island than Jack Broeders, who got that way because he has been a good steward to hundreds of acres of land without a lot of help?”
Calvin spoke of trials farmers had to deal with like the BSE scare when, overnight, herds became worthless. “Did anyone step forward to help these people who soldiered on without even help from the province? Times haven’t been good for them and along comes Canadian Hydro ready to offer substantial money for use of their land every year for 41 years, a fact which council must consider.”
Calvin also noted how little is left in the township budget to improve quality of life. “It took 10 to 12 years to pay off the $200,000. debenture for our 14 year old library,” he said. “With the amenities agreement of $650,000 a year flowing into the community, you would have to build six hundred, $300,000 houses to match that in taxes.” The wish list included the rink project , village water, refurbished town Hall.. “ Not a bad scenario. Maybe turbines are not perfect but perfection is the death knell of what is possible,” he said noting enough energy to power Kingston. A loud, negative outburst compelled the mayor to put the question “Adjourn? “to council. Clapping greeted their decision to continue and order prevailed.
Marysville resident Nancy Steele questioned the process. “There are those pro and con and there are those who feel we are not getting enough information,” she said. At the last meeting she asked about the amenities agreement, “perhaps I was out of order but why has it taken so long to release the information about content of the agreement?” She questioned its detail, insurance, fees, the possibility of more turbines, etc.
“There is a lot more to this than what has been said and that bothers me. Did council go through the draft ERR, submit comments? How will the money be prioritized? Has council considered a committee to oversee it?” She asked that council to pass a motion for a full Federal Environmental assessment. “ You have spent much time on the money and not enough on health, welfare, safety, bird issues which is why we need a full EA.”
Liz Crothers, expressed support for council’s decision to permit a Wind Plant and faith in the planning process. She spoke about environmental issues, shortage of hydro, air pollution, etc. and the bad news about Great Lakes fish contamination due to coal fired hydro facilities.
“I and other supporters of the project have not said much before. We have been relying on the democratic process to work. We elected this council knowing they were in favour of the wind plant which represents a good opportunity for the entire community.”
Lynn Moore representing WIRE said they got here because the provincial government tried to unravel the Planning Act and the Environmental Act under Bill 51 which she said offers no protection for people or environment and has no written policy.
“It is not that we are against wind turbines. We need the province to do their job and give guidance to the municipalities not just on Wolfe Island but all over the province regarding set backs, environmental issues. We want council to petition the province to get proper legislation in place. Also because the ERR sets a higher level of setbacks we want you to recind the zoning bylaw.”
WIRE is also asking council to support them in asking Canadian Hydro Developers to deliver on Federal Environmental Report requirements. She submitted a further 53 individual petitions and presented two motions, one for a Noise By-law and the other that Council request CHD conduct a Federal EA
A letter from Jane Scanlon opposing the wind plant process was read by the Mayor. New material from Bob Clark answering questions raised by Gail Kenney and Lynn Moore was distributed and is now available at the town hall.
Clark outlined the process to date regarding the planning process and the zoning bylaw which sets minimum standards for set backs etc. “It is not unusual to have other agencies come in and establish more stringent or larger regulations if you are looking at setbacks,” he said.
Wilkin and Clark will represent the township at the OMB Hearing which he (Wilkin) said, is a quasi judicial procedure, conducted with the formality of almost a court proceeding, and chaired by an OMB member.
“Dr. James Day and Sarah McDermott are being represented by Lawyer Peggy Smith. Canadian Hydro Developers will be there with legal representation and professional witnesses.” The Board has the jurisdiction to allow the appeals in whole, in part or to deny. It is the final arbiter, without appeal, and will decide whether the zoning bylaw is properly implementing the policy of wind turbines on Wolfe Island .”
There were questions and comments about the Holding Requirement, the real adequacy of windmills, the superficial nature of the ER Report ( regarding birds, wildlife, endangered species etc.), setbacks for non participating residents. There was an expressed regret by one person, that people were offered money first (leased land contract) when this should have been about more important issues. Gail Kenney thanked council for the opportunity to ask and receive answers to questions “but some 50 or 60 others remain unanswered.”
Islander Beth Caldwell commented that she has not been happy with some of the information that WIRE is circulating. “This is not just about birds, and wildlife, it is also about people. What is WIRE’s environmental solution if this project is shut down? ” she asked.
The OMB Hearing begins July 23rd, 11 a.m. at Sacred Heart School & is open to the public.
Enthusiastic land owners, farmers, friends, neighbours and supporters of renewable energy attended a gala barbecue and pot luck supper held to express their support for Canadian Hydro Developers (CREC) wind plant plan for Wolfe Island.
The barbecue organized by Jason Pyke (Pykeview Meadows) was hosted by Chris & Sophie Angenent at their home situated on the shores of Lake Ontario and came in advance of the imminent OMB Hearing beginning July 23rd (to hear 2 appellants against the project.)
In attendance was MPP John Gerretsen, Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing, NDP candidate Rick Downes and a representative for the P.C. candidate John Rapin. All were invited to see for themselves that there is strong support for the wind plant on Wolfe Island and for Ontario’s desire to increase its use of renewable energy . From Canadian Hydro Developers were Project Engineer Rob Miller, John Forster and Steve O’Gorman.(Calgary).
The event marked only the second time that the wind plant supporters gathered together as an identifiable group outside of public meetings.. The first was at the July Frontenac Islands council meeting where they came to show support for two island residents speaking in favour of the wind plant proposal.
To date the supportive residents assumed the democratic process was well underway through the various council and public meetings and ongoing Environmental Screening review.
Island resident Jim Calvin addressed the gathering commenting on the process to date, the decision of council to support the project , the importance of the wind plant to individual landowners and the amenities agreement. He spoke of the needs of the community, the lack of money to work with etc. He said Canadian Hydro dealt fairly with individual land owners in their leases, had worked closely with council to meet their requirements and in the end entered into an amenities agreement initiated to benefit whole community. Calvin spoke of other projects that were not accepted by the community, emphasizing that this one was, and commended Jason Pyke for bringing people together and keeping them informed.
Chris Angenent provided an informative and rather entertaining approach to some of the fears about wind towers. He put into perspective the fear of ice flying off blades, the numbers of dead birds, of health issues and such.
Perhaps it was Minister Gerretsen who said it all, when he indicated the support of government and his own personal support for wind power as well as for local municipal government and the democratic process. He said the province is committed to Renewable Energy and energy conservation. He noted that Frontenac Islands council has approved the wind plant plans to date, but some citizens disagreed and are using the legal option of appeal to the OMB to have the process reviewed, ”and that is as it should be,” he said.
Before leaving everyone was invited to sign a petition of support for the Canadian Hydro Developers (CREC) Wind Plant.
This article was not published in The Heritage
In a tremendous show of support the residents of Wolfe Island came out in large numbers to a Canada Day benefit concert and silent auction to raise money for an island couple who had lost their home to fire.
The event for Leanne and Murray McNeely, featured music by OFF Limits, Kyra & Tully and a host of local talent, including the island’s Ecumenical Choir dressed in red and white. The silent auction items came from local artisans, businesses, B&B’s, organizations, the churches and individuals including summer resident Don Cherry.
The musical event held at St. Margaret’s Hall, was initiated by Rev. Chris Carr, pastor at the island’s Trinity Anglican, where Murray is the organist. David Clark, an immediate neighbour and friend of the couple, organized the silent t auction. All together $9,625.57 was raised, ($3,300 from the auction and the remainder from personal donations.) All costs were waived.
Murray and Leanne took to the stage and thanked the audience, the performers and all those who had so willingly contributed to the auction. “ I am overwhelmed and grateful for the generosity of the community on our behalf,” Murray said.
The McNeely’s are planning to rebuild. They are presently living in a trailer on site at their property.
At the request of Frontenac Islands Council, Janet Noyes and David Casson from ECG Consultants Ltd., returned to the June meeting to present an assessment of the tactical approaches to supplying water in Marysville (149 houses), possible funding options, EA and next steps in the process. They reviewed the provincial policy statement which requires in most situations similar to Marysville, that both waste and water treatment be undertaken, which makes some sense but makes the whole situation critical in terms of cost, according to Casson.
Using the possible risk to current drinking water sources and the limitation of village growth however, could make a case for water only. Casson went on to talk about agency jurisdiction with DFO as most important. The total capital cost of the project is estimated at $1,410,000.(water only).
They offered funding scenarios where the village would bear 85% of the costs (capital & operation) and the balance assessed to all on Wolfe Island. XCG recommended that the township continue with the Phase II portion of the Class EA (plus public consultation, project initiation with MOE etc.) and continue looking for funding sources. Council received the report, deferring any decision or next steps to the July council meeting.
Wolfe Island resident Larry Bolton came forward to speak about the Interim Control by-law which controls development in the 500 metre waste disposal assessment area established in the Official Plan. He and his family were not made aware of the assessment area when they were negotiating to buy a .3 acre from the township to create a building lot on property owned by his mother.
“I find the 500 metre area excessive,and I am frustrated with what has happened to Sherry and Jarda (daughter &son in law) with regard to the lot they recently purchased.” He is also concerned about his mother’s home as well as his own property. “Can any of this property be sold with this bylaw? If not, is council ready to compensate for the value of property?” Bolton asked.
Council will consult with Totten Simms Hubicki’s Guy Laporte, also with planner, Tunnock Consulting Ltd. Council is looking for a mechanism whereby they can selectively allow development within the 500 metre area, though all properties in the assessment area will have hoops to jump according to Mayor Vanden Hoek. He extended an apology on behalf of council for the difficulty the situation has caused noting their hope that a way is found to release the property. “It won’t be next week and it won’t be free,” he said. Councillor Doyle wants the process speeded up in time for July meeting.
The proposed sale of a township owned waterfront lot (declared surplus) on Howe Island with the money going to help finance the island’s new Fire Hall was cause for some energetic discussion. Deputy Mayor Norris has always wanted it sold to help pay for the hall. Councillor Fiene who does not, said it was designated for recreation, the community expected it to be used that way and the township owns little waterfront property.
Councillor Doyle suggested that a percentage of dollars from its sale could go toward recreation. Norris suggested 15%. Fiene could support 40%. In a recorded vote the lot will be listed for sale with 25% of revenue going to a Howe Island recreation reserve and the balance to the Fire Hall debt. Councillor Fiene’s was the only nay. He was very disappointed with the decision.
Howe Island resident Heather Lippert informed council of her intent to ask Frontenac County to lift regulations limiting the hours trucks can use the County ferry. Lippert said trucks are restricted from 6:30 to 8:30 am, going off the island and 4-6 pm returning, which she believes is discriminating, unreasonable and affects all trades people causing much frustration. She has waited up to 3 hours to get on the ferry. “We have as much right to get home or to complete a day’s work.” After a bit of to and fro between council members about the two most obvious options , stay with the present policy or remove it, they determined they would talk to the operators as soon as possible and ponder what realistic way they can resolve the problem. There has been ongoing concern with the slowness of the ferry, ever increasing wait times, as well as weight (tonnage ) problems.
A By-Law to govern the proceedings of Council, that is the conduct of its members, the calling of meetings , proceedings, motions/rules of debate, By-Laws etc. was passed.
The township allocated $10,000 of the recently received Communities in Action Grant towards materials for a floating dock that Frontenac Marine has volunteered to build. Staff will also work with Peggy Smith, who along with Bill Henderson, spearheaded the grant application for land and water activities, to ensure the additional floating docks she needs will attach to the original one.
*Two regulatory “Slow” signs will go up on Wolfe Island’s 18th Line Road as a result of requests by residents concerned with speeding in the area. *Councillor Fiene was appointed the township’s representative to the Cataraqui Source Protection Authority. Council will continue to work with Environment Canada to get back the 18 hunting days lost due to Frontenac Islands ‘No Sunday Hunting’ policy.
* Howe Island is looking to make some changes to their Waste Management process.
Next Frontenac Islands Council Meeting Mon. July 9th 6:30 pm Wolfe Island.
So what’s Going On around Town: *A fire destroyed the McNeely home on Wolfe Island.
Island hearing specialist Peggy Plunkett and “Sound Sense” facilitator, presented the program geared for young people “save your hearing” to students at Marysville Public School.
*Strong winds blew open a hatch on the Frontenac Marine barge at the Wolfe Island ferry dock. Overnight it filled with water and sank. Work began immediately to bring it up.
* Wolfe Island’s scenic/ ecologically significant Big Sandy Bay (BSB) area has re-opened to the public to hike, picnic, bird watch and swim the natural sand beach daily 9am-7 pm. There is an Admission fee. Free parking. Guided tours Wed.-Sundays 1:30pm. For information contact Rick Lindgren (613-385-1686), or go to: www.bigsandybay.ca.
* WIRE (Residents for the Environment) has opened a Wind Turbine Information office across from the General Wolfe Hotel where infomation outlinning their opposition to and concerns about the proposed island wind farm are distributed .
* Stone Heron Gallery, all new “Images of the Island” Opens June 30th- Sept 2nd , 10-5pm.