SkyPower submits two wind tower applications

November 20, 2008 at 4:29 pm Leave a comment

By Neil Etienne
Staff Writer Eganville Leader

Eganville — Committee meetings are typically scantly attended public affairs, but Tuesday’s Finance and Administration meeting for Bonnechere Valley Township turned out to be the hottest seat in town as members of the local council received two wind tower site applications from SkyPower corporation of Toronto.

The first application received was for the Foymount area, a six-tower proposal that had come across BV CAO Bryan Martin’s desk earlier in the summer, but was almost immediately returned to the applicant because of vital missing information. Mr. Martin said although he still hasn’t had much of a chance to peruse the documents to know if all the previously missing pieces are there, new issues arising since will probably mean all the information isn’t there now either.

The second application is for the 33 to 34 tower proposal for the Hardwood Hills area, but this would be the first in a two-phase project which could see as many as 66 towers there.

“We are currently reviewing these applications for completeness,” Mr. Martin said, adding that may be hard to do right now. Mr. Martin explained that on one hand the province has identified wind power as a primary concern, however, the province also doesn’t want to allow development of certain tracts of land, such as those containing aggregates. He said while the applications are only a rudimentary form, they do identify potential tower locations near sensitive environmental lands or near aggregate fields.

“So the province needs to decide what policy they want to enforce,” he said, saying for example, people cannot build hunt camps on certain locations because they may harm the environment, “so does that mean you can’t build a wind tower there too, I don’t know; they’ll have to get back to me on that.” JP2G engineering consultant Brian Whitehead was at the meeting and explained he had penned a draft letter in response to SkyPower that would not yet identify the exact issues with the applications, but “as a first step” until council can determine exactly what is missing.

“It’s more procedural right now,” he said. “They’ve told us the EA (environmental assessment) for Foymount should be completed by the end of the year…for the other one, it’s more toward the end of October of next year before completion.” He said besides the missing EA, which for both is currently still in the works, “we have a fairly substantial list of issues,” pointing out that list comes off of only simple scans, as he has not yet had a chance to seriously delve into the paper work. “There is a list of issues here,” he said.

Council has 30 days to comment on the applications, but Mr. Whitehead said to not worry so much about that deadline, as there is little chance the applying company will have enough information to be able to fulfi ll council’s needs. He did warn that at the end of the 30 days, the applicant can apply for an Ontario Municipal Board hearing, forcing council to make a decision to proceed or not to proceed, but that the OMB hearing would likely require all the same information be present that council would need to make a decision.

“Sure they could go to the OMB if they wanted, but it wouldn’t serve much purpose that early in the process; the OMB is just going to ask for all the same information you’re asking for,” Mr. Martin said. Council, township staff and Mr. Whitehead will continue to look at the application in the coming weeks to determine if and where any lack of information may rest and will send a written response to the applicant identifying any issues with the goal to respond by the Nov. 28 deadline for the Hardwood Hills project and about a week later for the Foymount area project.

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