THUNDER BAY – Following a legal update on the proposed Big Thunder Wind Farm Development, City Council voted to amend its resolution to execute the lease with Horizon. Council approved 14 instead of the previous 18 specific locations for wind turbines.
Council resolved that Horizon be advised that the City is not satisfied with the viewsheds relating to four of the proposed turbines locations and the City requires Horizon to relocate them to locations that are no closer to the edge of the escarpment than the 14 turbine locations which were approved. The form of lease approved does not include any rights with respect to the unopened Loch Lomond Road Allowance.
The meeting lasted well into the wee hours of the morning and many who were in attendance had left by 02:00AM.
Councillor Larry Hebert, who had declared a conflict on the resolution as he is involved n energy projects added some humour to the long wait when Council went behind closed doors for legal advice on a motion to indemnify Loch Lomond over any liability brought on by the wind turbines.
“In fact I tried to pass an 12 o’clock resolution by myself,” shared Hebert. However without a seconder, the motion couldn’t go forward.
“Council reviewed this matter extensively and it dealt with its obligation to move forward to execute the lease for the City-owned lands,” said City Manager Tim Commisso, who added that negotiations had not been finalized over the past week with Horizon.
The original resolution passed by Committee of the Whole at a special meeting on Oct. 12, 2010, involved negotiating a different form of lease and included approval of the 18 locations requested by Horizon for Phase One of the Wind Farm project.
Since November 2009, Council has considered this item on several occasions, both in Open and Closed sessions. Horizon has exercised the option to lease under contract with the City dated Nov. 23, 2007.
The City’s review, which includes the recent work by Dillon Consulting, did not encompass any subject matter that is reserved for consideration by the Province through the Renewable Energy Approval (or “REA”) process under the Green Energy Act. That process is underway but has not concluded. The City’s jurisdiction involves consideration of the locations of turbines based on viewsheds, while being reasonable based on the need for the project to maximize energy production.