Environmental Land Tribunal Collingwood

It is hard to come up with a standard name for this hearing since there are seven appellants. Therefore we will use the following as reference:

16 036 Wiggins v. Ontario MOECC

The hearing also includes, 16 037 Elwood v. Ontario MOECC; 16 038 Simcoe County/ Clearview v. Ontario MOECC; 16 039 Corp of County Simcoe v. Ontario MOECC; 16 040 Preserve Clearview Inc. v. Ontario MOECC; 16 041 Corporation Town of Clearview v. Ontario MOECC; 16 042 Town of Collingwood v. Ontario MOECC; Participant, Canadian Owners and Pilot’s Association (COPA)

The Wiggins vs Ontario is one of the largest Environmental Review Tribunal hearings with many issues coming together. As with the previous 30 plus tribunals to date the Appellants are only able to appeal on “Serious harm to human health and serious and irreversible harm to animal plant life and the environment”.

Early in the hearing Elizabeth Marshall, Legal Researcher for the Ontario Landowners Association gave her presentation. Ms. Marshall also does research for lawyers, MPs and MPPs as well. In her 88 pages of documented questions Ms. Marshall had many concerns about the legislative regime set up for Wind Energy projects. She also questioned the serious harm that can be caused from ice throw or ice fling from wind turbine blade tips moving at 200 km or more. To put it into perspective imagine getting hit by a kilogram or more of ice moving at a speed 2 or 3 times the speed of a pitch in baseball. She stated that you may see signs on roads near turbines where the light is flashing to warn drivers of the possibility of ice fling or throw.

Ms. Marshall stated that there is a lack of definition as to what “serious harm to human health” is. At the end of the hearing usually the tribunal says that the appellants didn’t prove serious harm to human health so the wind project is approved. A comparison would be to high jumping if you didn’t know where the bar was going to be set and the judges said you didn’t jump high enough.

Secondly, in the first week the tribunal heard excellent testimony by presenters and experts giving evidence on the effects of the environment and endangered species or species at risk if the WPD Wind Turbine project proceeds, as approved in February 2016. It was also shown that full studies were not completed on wetlands on private property in the wind project area where there are species at risk including brown bats.

Thirdly, Kevin Elwood, and George Daniels presented and gave expert evidence respectively in the aviation field explaining their safety concerns relating to the Collingwood Registered Airport and the Clearview Aerodrome (Stayner). The Renewable Energy Approval permits 8 turbines 4 km from the runways at the Collingwood Airport and a 2 kilometer area around the Clearview Aerodrome. Also the helipad at the Collingwood Hospital for Medivac Services was included in their concerns.

Pierre Lajoie, Manager of the Collingwood airport, stated that there are over 12,000 takeoffs and landings at the airport each year during work hours so there is concern about serious harm to health for pilots, passengers, student pilots and hospital patients. As well the turbines will negatively affect future expansion of aviation, tourism and business development of the Collingwood area. Pilots are always concerned about quick weather changes off Georgian Bay and being able to land and takeoff safely. The ice fling and strong wind turbulence from turbines add to these safety concerns.

This hearing continues again from May 30th to June 3rd. There are still 13 or more people who have prepared to give evidence at the Collingwood Curling Club. There is a possibility that the hearing may have to be extended further into June. If you can arrange time, this is a public hearing and you can attend and learn more as to how the WPD wind project can affect the Collingwood area for years to come. The appellants would appreciate your support.

For further information Google: Canadian Owners and Pilots Association for the Petition and the following link for an interview with MPP Jim Wilson and Kevin Elwood.