The proposed wind farm in St-Bernardin was added to Ontario’s Environmental Registry last week—the next step toward its approval.
Now the public has until June 2 to submit comments about the project to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).
Julie Leroux, spokesperson for the Save the Nation, a local opposition group, says the organization will be reviewing the final documents.
“We were expecting this to happen,” she says. “Our role will be to help people understand the process and submit pertinent comments.”
The project’s possible effect on local wells is one element Save the Nation will be addressing.
Renewable Energy System’s (RES) documentation, the company behind the wind farm, identifies “highly vulnerable aquifers” in the north and south portions of the project.
For example, once the project is up and running, it says there’s a potential effect of “permanent reduction of water quality and quantity in private wells.” No specific solution in this case is outlined other than to say, “actions will be taken to restore water supply, such as drilling a new well.” However, if the groundwater supply is contaminated, then simply drilling a new well isn’t a viable solution.
Nonetheless, the hydrogeological study concludes, “proposed mitigation measures, including a site-specific Spill Response Plan, will help mitigate potential impacts to water quality and quantity. No long-term permanent or otherwise significant negative potential effects are anticipated…”
The Review has previously covered the project more in-depth and other implications.
Possible construction and appeal
During this time, RES will be hosting two public sessions for people interested in getting more information about the project.
They’ll be held on May 15 and 23 at the Caledonia community centre in St-Bernardin community centre from 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. and then again from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on both dates.
Andrea Cosman, associate developer, with RES said the project being added to the registry means the ministry has deemed it complete and so far it hasn’t requested any changes.
RES will also be continuing to work with La Nation and Champlain on the “community benefits” for each municipality, which include a local electricity discount and a $30,000 annual community fund for 20 years.
After June 2, the ministry will be reviewing all submitted comments before allowing the project to move forward. Cosman says RES expects a decision in the late summer or early fall. If it goes in the company’s favour, it hopes to start construction next spring and finish in the fall.
Not if Save the Nation can help it.
The organization is currently part of a judicial review filed by Toronto lawyer Eric Gillespie. If the project is approved after the ministry’s review of comments, then Leroux anticipates Save the Nation will be going to the Environmental Review Tribunal to appeal the decision.
“It’s always been our point of view that if we do nothing then the project will be built,” says Leroux. “We’re going to use all the options at our disposal.”