Day 1 of the Ostrander Point ERT appeal — an excellent beginning
More than 150 concerned citizens of PEC packed the Sophiasburgh Town Hall in Demorestville on Monday to observe the first day of the Ostrander Point ERT appeal. Judging from the spontaneous applause after Eric Gillespie’s opening statement, almost everyone was an APPEC and/or PECFN supporter.
The two ERT panel members are Vice-Chair Robert V. Wright, who presided over the preliminary hearing, and Vice-Chair Heather Gibbs. We are encouraged by the fact that the ERT has assigned two senior and experienced members to hear the appeals.
The first day (a shortened session) was dedicated in part to organizational and procedural matters. It was reconfirmed that the appeals will be heard sequentially — PECFN first, then APPEC.
Eric Gillespie, the Appellants’ lawyer, gave his opening statement in respect of PECFN’s natural environment appeal. He suggested that this appeal, which will be first to present multiple witnesses on environmental grounds will be precedent-setting. Some key assertions:
- Ostrander Point is likely the worst location in Ontario for wind turbines.
- If the appeal is denied, no location in Ontario will be safe for birds and bats.
- This result was surely not the intent of the legislation.
Eric outlined the main points that will be made by PECFN and its expert witnesses:
- This is the first time that multiple experts will give evidence about the environmental / ecological sensitivity of an Important Bird Area.
- PEC’s South Shore is one of the few undeveloped tracts of shoreline on Lake Ontario.
- Ostrander Point includes rare alvar habitat that should be protected.
- It is home to at least 19 endangered species at risk, both terrestrial and airborne.
- Fourteen other species also use Ostrander Point as their breeding ground.
- PEC is a community that cares very deeply about the threat to these resources.
- More than 1000 comments were submitted to the EBR website – an unprecedented number for any project to date.
- Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, stated in his annual report that wind turbines should not be allowed in IBAs.
- Several major naturalist groups have also urged that wind turbines be kept out of IBAs.
Eric also provided a brief introduction to the PECFN’s eight expert witnesses (recruited worldwide), listing the impressive credentials and subject area of each person. The lawyer for the MOE made reference to their witnesses, all from MNR. Lastly, the lawyer for Gilead briefly listed their witnesses — some from Stantec Consulting, and several independent experts.
Finally, Parker Gallant of Wind Concerns Ontario, accepted as a Participant in the appeals, made his opening statement, indicating that WCO would address bats and biodiversity.
Plans for the rest of the week are:
- Tuesday, March 5 afternoon — site visit (not open to the public).
- Wednesday, March 6, all day from 09:30 in Demorestville.
- Thursday, March 7, starting at 10:00 in Toronto (videoconference testimony)
- Friday, March 8, all day in Demorestville, starting time to be confirmed.
Because Gilead has stated that it plans to proceed with activity on the Ostrander Point site in April, PECFN has filed a motion for a stay to prevent any work being done prior to the ERT’s decision. The motion will be heard on Monday, March 18, location and time to be confirmed.
Other planned dates for the PECFN phase of the appeal are: March 25 to 28 and April 3 to 5.
We urge PEC residents to attend as many days of the appeal as possible, to show your concern about this important issue.
HELP! Both APPEC and PECFN need many thousands of dollars of additional donations to fund their ERT appeals through to completion. To donate to APPEC, go to www.appec.wordpress.com or click on the Donate button on the right side of this page. To donate to PECFN, go to www.saveostranderpoint.org .