Kalynn Sawyer Helmer
Record Staff
FINCH – On Thurs., July 5, at the Finch Arena, the pre-hearing took place for the Concerned Citizens of North Stormont’s appeal of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change’s (MOE), now the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, approval of the Nation Rise Wind Farm project.

The appeal was filed on May 22 under the section 142.1 (2) of the Environmental Protection Act. The notice of pre-hearing and hearing explains, “The purpose of the Hearing is for the Environmental Review Tribunal to review the Director’s decision and consider only whether engaging in the renewable energy project in accordance with the Renewable Energy Approval will cause: serious harm to human health; or serious and irreversible harm to plant life, animal life or the natural environment. If the Tribunal determines that such harm will be caused, the Tribunal may: revoke the Director’s decision; by order, direct the Director to take such action as the Tribunal considers appropriate; or alter the Director’s decision, for which purpose the Tribunal may substitute its own opinion. If the Tribunal determines that such harm will not be caused, the Tribunal shall confirm the Director’s decision.”

Tribunal vice-chair Maureen Carter-Whitney and member Helen Jackson sat for the pre-hearing panel. Carter-Whitney explained to the public present that the pre-hearing was intended to address public member’s requests for status in the hearing, to overview the issues the hearing will discuss and to schedule the hearing proceedings. Five North Stormont residents were present and approved of status for the hearing and two were granted status despite being located well outside of North Stormont. Cynthia Daoust, Trenant Acres Ltd., Anthony Mekker, Ruby Mekker, Rainer Pethke, James Winters, and Samuel (Vern) Martin have been granted Presenter status and Karine Walkey Skinner has been granted Participant status.

The approval holder had no objections to the granting of status but debate was had about the relevance of some of the status holder’s proposed topics for the hearing. Some of those included the impact on economic viability of dairy cattle and equine businesses, and the concerns of the turbines’ proximity to the West Quebec Seismic Fault.

The appellent’s counsel Andrew Chachula, Associate Litigation Lawyer at Eric K. Gillespie Professional Corporation, defended the validity of the concerns and their relevance to the case and a decision by the panel was deterred until the next day.

The decision was as follows: “The following matters referenced in some of the requests for status will not be considered at the hearing because they are not within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal pursuant to the EPA or not within the scope of the issues set out in the Notice of Appeal: economic impacts of the Project; the potential impacts of the Project on the health of animals except in relation to groundwater contamination as set out in the Notice of Appeal; and, the West Quebec Seismic Fault except in relation to the potential for impacts of the Project on groundwater and safety, as set out in the Notice of Appeal.”

Status holders will be required to provide a final presentation document before the hearing officially commences at the Finch Arena on Mon., July 23 at 9 a.m. The hearing is open to the public for viewing, however any active participation in the hearing must only come from status holders and the parties involved in the appeal.