The Howe Island ferry service moved to the top of the agenda when a record crowd (which also included representatives of Canadian Hydro Developers, Inc. and Wolfe Island Residents for the Environment (WIRE), filled Howe Island’s municipal building for Frontenac Islands monthly meeting.
The township ferry at the east end of Howe island was out of service for 5-weeks waiting for parts and the County ferry experienced shutdowns, including one during a medical emergency. Residents came wanting confirmation that the township ferry would operate all winter and the role Howe Island will play in a transportation plan (recently identified as a possibility). HIRA’s (Howe Island Ratepayers Association) Gary Nichol was there looking for answers to a series of related questions.
According to Mayor Vanden Hoek Frontenac Islands has had little success in advancing a municipal transportation plan initiative. But there is an initial action from the Ministry of Transportation driven by the Wolfe Island service to do an EA (environmental assessment) and to include the Howe service. “We are just starting the long process and then you have to find the money for the preferred option,” the mayor said. (A current history of the ferry service was commissioned by the township for eventual submission to MTO.) “The township service also has short term options on the maintenance side and the drive issue on the county ferry to resolve. If we had known how long it would take to get parts things would have been done differently,” he said.
The ferry is now operating and will operate all winter, weather permitting, from Jan.1st. CAO O’Shea said MTO was advised of council’s resolution to operate the ferry because the enhancements to the county ferry were not what they were supposed to be, particularly in these last months with its breakdowns, problems with township ferry and medical emergencies. There is ongoing action to build and purchase a new ferry drive and pump and to submit a plan for council approval and “submission to MTO.
Howe Island’s Fire and Rescue Chief Mike Quinn clarified the protocol for medical emergencies and specifically a statement attributed to him that “an air ambulance would be called” in a medical emergency. “We must be clear, an air ambulance COULD be called. That decision falls to the Central Ambulance Communication Centre (dispatch) who look to the local service to define other possible options based on the condition of the patient, severity of an injury, etc. and then decide.”In this instance, an air ambulance was not required and a private boat carried the patient to a waiting ambulance .
In other business: 1. Jennifer Current from the firm of Clark Consulting presented a bylaw to designate Frontenac Islands as a site plan control area for the development of a wind plant. She noted a few very simple word changes (ie. “set backs” to “distances”) for purposes of clarity which came up at the last minute and are not yet vetted by legal council. Councillor Fiene questioned the inclusion of Howe Island in the bylaw. Doyle wanted passage of the bylaw deferred to January. Ms. Current noted that there are no lands on Howe Island designated for wind turbines. Any plan for Howe Island would require an official plan amendment and a zoning bylaw amendment, environmental screening etc. She reiterated that the word changes were minor. However passage of the bylaw was deferred by resolution to January.
2. Wolfe Island seasonal resident Lynn Moore representing WIRE noted that they have been waiting for the provincial focus group’s review report of the Province’s regulation 116.01, not yet released policy statement particularly as it relates to noise. They are concerned and want proper protection and safeguards for residents living close to wind turbines. Ms Moore asked council to approve a resolution for submission to the Minister of the Environment stating that until there are provincial noise policies that give proper setbacks and protection to people, that the wind plant project be put in abeyance as premature. She cited the Grey Highlands Municipality as having submitted such a resolution. “The ERR has been released without those policies and we need the municipality to ensure our rights are looked after,” Moore said. She noted that in July, WIRE had submitted a request that Frontenac Islands pass a noise bylaw in light of the wind plant project.
The Mayor commented that legislation is always under review and changing. In response John Uliana from Stantec Ltd. said it was his view the agency responsible for noise is the MOE and it is to MOE that applications should be made. Ms. Current said applications are dealt with according to existing policies., and ultimately it is for MOE to determine if the policies are being met. Moore said that WIRE is dealing with MOE but is looking for council support. The material submitted by WIRE will be reviewed by Clark Consulting for council by Dec. 31st in advance of the Wolfe Island ERR comment extension date of Jan. 4, 2008.
3. Presentations and requests for support and follow up were made by
1.) Don Grant of the firm of Jacques Whitford re: Integrated Community Sustainability Program.
2.) The designation of the St. Lawrence River as a Canadian Heritage River by the 1000 Islands Residents Association’s Peter Macklin & Pam Bliss.
3. Following a presentation by a disgruntled Gene Manion, and further input by Frank Vellone regarding blocked, private and public ditches, water courses etc. on Howe Island, it was decided that staff and council will meet with the affected property owners.
4.Council will submit a request to MTO for an extra 4:45 am ferry run from Wolfe Island with No Alteration to the present schedule.
6. Mayor Vanden Hoek wants the cost of doing an EA to begin the process for providing water in Marysville included in the 2008 budget. “If you want to apply for funding to resolve the issue, you have to have that work done. You can’t one day say we are going to put water in the village, but if a plan is there the municipality has done due diligence and the Federal and Provincial partners will have to come to the table. It will be a contentious issue but we have to move on with it,” he said. An EA is good for 5 year and renewable. Staff will look into EA costs. Council meets next Wolfe Island, Jan. 14th , 6:30 pm.
Warmest Greetings to All for a Blessed Christmas & A Happy 2008
Review Period Extension for an Environmental Review Report
Wolfe Island Wind Project
Canadian Renewable Energy Corporation (“CREC”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Canadian Hydro Developers, Inc., is proposing to build, own, and operate a wind plant on Wolfe Island, Township of Frontenac Islands. Key components of the project include 86 wind turbine generators, access roads, electrical collector and transmission lines, pad-mounted transformers, transformer station, operation and maintenance building, and interconnection facility with the provincial grid.
On 19 November 2007, CREC released the final Environmental Review Report (“ERR”) after several years of extensive consultation and intensive study. In compliance with the Ministry of the Environment’s (“MOE”) Guide to Environmental Assessment Requirements for Electricity Projects, March 2001 (“EA Guide”), a Notice of Completion was published in local newspapers and delivered to those who had expressed an interest in the project. As stated in the Notice of Completion the review and comment period was scheduled to conclude on 19 December 2007.
In recognition of the comprehensive nature of the ERR, the long history and evolution of the project, and ongoing stakeholder interest in this renewable energy initiative, CREC has voluntarily extended the comment filing date to 4:30 p.m. on 04 January 2008. The ERR continues to be available on the project website (www.wolfeislandwind.com) or in hard copy form at the following locations:
Township of Frontenac Islands Office, Wolfe Island
Highway 96, Wolfe Island
Township of Frontenac Islands Office, Howe Island
50 Baseline Road, Howe Island
Kingston Frontenac Public Library, Wolfe Island Branch
10 Highway 95, Wolfe Island
Kingston Frontenac Public Library, Howe Island Branch
50 Baseline Road, Howe Island
City of Kingston, City Hall, Clerk's Office
216 Ontario Street, Kingston
Kingston Frontenac Public Library, Central Branch
130 Johnston Street, Kingston
Kingston Frontenac Public Library, Isabel Turner Branch
935 Gardiners Road, Kingston
Village of Cape Vincent Municipal Office
127 E. Joseph Street, Cape Vincent, New York
Ontario Ministry of the Environment
2 St. Clair Avenue West, Floor 12A, Toronto, Ontario
Ontario Ministry of the Environment
1259 Gardiners Road, Kingston, Ontario
All comments and correspondence should continue to be directed to:
Mr. Robert Miller
Canadian Renewable Energy Corporation
c/o Stantec Consulting Limited
361 Southgate Drive
In accordance with the EA Guide stakeholders must first attempt to resolve any outstanding issues with CREC during the Notice of Completion review and comment period. In the event that issues cannot be resolved with CREC during the review period, the concerned party may make a written request to the Director of the MOE’s Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch at the address noted below to elevate the project to an Individual Environmental Assessment. A copy of the elevation request must also be sent to CREC at the address above.
Director of Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch
Ministry of the Environment
2 St. Clair Avenue West, Floor 12A
Elevation requests must be made in accordance with the provisions set out in the EA Guide and be received by the MOE’s EAAB Director and CREC no later than 4:30 p.m. on 04 January 2007. Additional information on the Notice of Completion, ERR, and project is available on the project website.
The Toronto Globe & Mail (Nov.17th) published an article entitled “An Ill Wind Blows!” The article talks about the Canadian Hydro Developers (CHD) Wind Power Plant for Wolfe Island. It seems to be written by someone who has probably visited the island two or three times, sees it as utopia and is totally unaware of its history or its people, and more recently what has gone on for the last number of years with regard to the island wind power debate.
While one can deal with certain errors in article, it is impossible to accept references that suggest islanders are stupid: ”The island is ideal for CHD because a lot of people here are old, naïve and impressionable. Someone comes to their door and offers them money and it is hard to resist.” or “Companies like CHD target communities that are poor and easily influenced.”
The truth is that islanders, people of the land and water, have witnessed many changes, have endured much and now wisely see that the wind that blows on their island and across their land offers some small hope not only for their future but ours as well. And, they are well aware that human activity can affect the environment, positively or negatively. Thus their “yes” to a wind plant is their gift if you will, to help stop the destruction of the environment by reducing the use of fossil fuels and the abuse of water, our most sacred commodity. (It has always seemed logical to me when I see from our home, the wind and waves pounding against Milton Island that that wind could be harnessed to generate electricity just as the derelict wind mills once drew water.)
The prevailing wind in Southern Ontario is from the south west. Thus coastal areas and highlands are a natural place for wind towers. Eastern Ontario, New York State and that part of Ontario on Lake Huron including part of the escarpment are where wind towers are being proposed. However, every proposal draws out, not only those who are FOR wind power generation, but also those who say they are not against wind turbines per se, yet have many reasons for saying NO. Wolfe Island has been no different.
The release of the long awaited Wolfe Island Wind Plant Environmental Review Report (ERR) www.wolfeislandwind.com by Stantec Ltd for Canadian Hydro Developers offers residents the opportunity to review the report from 19 November to 19 December, 2007 and determine if the company has fulfilled all that is required to move forward. That is the siting of the towers, land use, environmental commitments, protection of birds, visual impact, noise, potential environmental effects, protective and mitigation measures, and follow-up programs.
They are to direct any comments to: Robert Miller, Canadian Renewable Energy Corporation c/o Stantec Consulting Limited, 361 Southgate Drive, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 3M5.
So here we are at the cross roads, a turning point in Ontario’s need for new, renewable electricity generation capacity. The ERR identifies whether Canadian Hydro fulfilled the various regulatory requirements and is now out there. It presents and assesses the eighty-six, 2.3 MW Wind Turbine Plant for Wolfe Island (setbacks from environmental features, technical considerations, compliance with the various municipal, provincial, and federal setbacks, regulations, and guidelines, etc.). The ERR is a reminder of the many environmental advantages of the island’s wind (clean source of energy, does not produce harmful air emissions, waste, greenhouse gases, sulphur or carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, heavy metals and offsets coal , natural gas emissions, reduces smog and acid rain) but also of the project’s many economic advantages (employment, direct land owner funding, amenities agreement, plus many indirect advantages and tax revenues). We also know that the wind power plant on Wolfe Island will generate enough power for 75,000 homes, and represents one small step in reducing use of non renewable energy in Ontario.
With regards to the ERR, members of WIRE (Wolfe Island Residents for the Environment) are worried that all residents will not have access to the report. WIRE is seeking an extension to the review period from Canadian Hydro Developers, more public consultation, and want site and noise maps, notice of Information Meetings, (rather than open house sessions) mailed to all residents including seasonal (receptors and non receptors of towers). Their ongoing concerns are setbacks, the changed island viewscape, use of land, noise, turbine lighting, affect on wildlife, migratory birds, bats and property values. They want to be heard.
For the last 30 years or more islanders have watched the island change. Some of the changes have been difficult, others are a sign of progress. Children from the island’s farming community have left the island to be educated with no thought of returning to the hard life their parents have experienced. And in truth that is what their parents wanted for them, but the result has been in many cases, there is no one to take over the farm. Much of the land is now left barren.
Islanders who have embraced the development of the Wind Plant have placed their trust in Canadian Hydro Developers, they believe, that in spite of it being for-profit, the company will attempt to mitigate their concerns whether land use, set backs, noise, turbine siting, transmission line routing, avian mortality etc. and that they will bring to this project all that they have learned from other projects.
Our country is facing environmental disasters in a world where CO2 emissions and use of fossil fuels continue to go up, water levels are going down, the earth is ravaged, drought conditions inch across the land and there are no more rivers to dam. Coal, gas fired generators and nuclear plants produce waste, pollute the air and consume non renewable resources,and cause global warming.
Wind power offers hope for the future, a future which at the moment looks pretty grim, if no one is willing to take steps to change it. As difficult as it may be, islanders are willing to take those steps, to accept the dramatic changes a wind power plant will have on the face of their island, to ensure its future and perhaps in some small way that of the universe. Who was it who said, “One Small Step?
Around town: With too much going on, the important Snow Flake Fling, a fundraiser for Mack O’Coin who is battling Leukemia, got missed. Fun for too few. Disappointing for Grandma Lori Minten for whom community is family, and the family didn’t come.