File photo of Champlain Township council (Photo: Francis Tessier-Burns)

Revised wind farm plan could put turbine in Champlain Township

The wind farm planned for the St-Bernardin area of The Nation Municipality could now include one turbine in Champlain Township.

The developer of Eastern Fields wind farm, RES Canada, has selected 11 sites for turbines, but expects to drop two of them before construction begins, said Project Development Manager Lucas Reindler. There would be nine turbines in total, and he said that when the company first started working on the project, they expected to build as many as 15.

The sites originally chosen for the turbines were all in The Nation, but Reindler said after consultations with various groups, it was decided that two sites would be changed. “The two turbines that were closest to Alfred bog, we determined that those were the most impactful,” he said. In addition to environmental concerns, there is a balloon business less than a kilometre away from those sites.

New sites were selected, and one is in the south-west corner of Champlain Township, south of the intersection of Fitzpatrick and Nixon Roads. Reindler said compared with previous sites, all of the new sites have fewer neighbours within one kilometre. “One of the locations is just over the border into Champlain Township, but still in the general study area,” he said. The changes were made in part “to be responsive to the feedback that we’re receiving and to show in good faith that we want to make the project better,” he said.

At Champlain Township’s regular council meeting on Tuesday, May 9, councillors voiced displeasure about the change. Councillor Paul-Emile Duval suggested that council approve a “not a willing host” resolution and added that he would be contacting Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MPP Grant Crack. In response to a question from a member of the public, Mayor Gary Barton said he does not believe there is a way for the municipality to block the construction of the turbine. “Some people may disagree with me, but I don’t think so,” he said. 

In June of 2015, the developers of Parc Eolien Gauthier, which was later taken over by RES Canada and renamed Eastern Fields, received support from Champlain Township council. That support resolution, which was not approved unanimously, was contingent on an agreement that there would be no turbines built in Champlain – just a substation.

The black triangle shape furthest to the right on this map shows a new site chosen for a turbine by the developers of the Eastern Fields wind farm. It’s the only site selected in Champlain Township. The company says of the eleven sites shown on the map, two will be eliminated before construction begins. (Source: RES Canada)

“There was a presentation made that to receive municipal support, we said we wouldn’t put towers in the township,” said Reindler. Having community support for a project could have given the developers an advantage during the process of applying for a contract from the province, but it wasn’t mandatory. Parc Eolien Gauthier was ultimately deemed by IESO not to have community support, and was awarded a contract regardless. “There was a plan, but in the end the project didn’t receive any benefit from said commitment” to Champlain Township, said Reindler.

He said RES Canada has been in contact with representatives of Champlain Township in recent months. “We want to be collaborative,” he said, adding that RES Canada would be happy to make a presentation at a Champlain Township council meeting but has so far not been invited.

Reindler said the company has not heard any complaints about the new turbine location in Champlain Township. “As far as we’re concerned, it’s an improvement to the project,” he said.

The company is holding public meetings about the project in late May: on Tuesday, May 23 between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Caledonia Community Centre in St-Bernardin (6900 County Road 22), and on May 24 between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Vankleek Hill Curling Club (136 Bond Street).