THUNDER BAY – The City of Thunder Bay reports, “Horizon Wind Inc. (Horizon) has begun geotechnical testing in conjunction with the proposed Big Thunder Wind Park project which requires the removal of some trees and brush clearing to allow access for equipment, and will not involve actual road bed construction”.
“Horizon has recently accessed the City’s lands for the purpose of conducting feasibility studies, including soil testing,” said Tim Commisso, City Manager. “Safety of the public who may be using the trails in the area is also a priority.” Trail users are advised to heed the cautionary signage and delineation of the work site and not put themselves at risk.
Is Thunder Bay Gagged?
Seeking answers from members of City Council is difficult. Councillors are reporting that if they comment either in public or in private on the Horizon Agreement or the Wind Farm that the City of Thunder Bay will not cover their legal costs.
Seeking answers on the amount of money for example that Horizon would put in the escrow fund, for each wind turbine, that answer remains unanswered. Sources tell NetNewsLedger that those funds are no longer a part of the City’s agreement.
When asked for comment, City Manager Tim Commisso did not respond by the time this report was made.
At issue in terms of site mitigation is that if the Ontario Ministry of the Environment doesn’t approve the application, there would be nothing in place to ensure mitigation to the property.
The bigger issue is that at the end of the life of the wind turbines, an estimated thirty years, without a solid mitigation plan, and the required funds in place, the Corporation of the City of Thunder Bay would assume responsibility for site clean up.
City Agreement Confuses Impacted Residents
In accordance with the City’s agreements with Horizon, limited tree cutting is permitted in advance of the various approvals the project requires, as was presented to Council in Open Session on April 4, 2011. It was identified that “some pre-construction work on that site (including geotechnical testing in preparation of the proposed road construction) will be required and will be permitted.”
Horizon has conferred with City Staff and will be adhering to the general principles of Article 2 of the City’s Public Tree By-law 008-2005, which stipulates that trees will be preserved where possible, however, it is acknowledged that some tree clearing is required for the project. A replanting program has also been agreed to and is in place.
Residents in Neebing have far different views on this issue. Some report that they are worried about talking in public on the issue over worries about being subject to potential legal action.
Legal Action in Melancthon
The concern over possible legal action is a possibility. The Orangeville.com newssite reports on a wind energy company that is taking Melachthon to court. “With Dufferin Wind filing for expropriation, taking the township to court over the storage of wind turbines, and recently applying to have the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) institute a road use agreement, the township has reached a breaking point, Hill said.
“People are incensed by the bullying tactics employed by Dufferin Wind Power Inc.,” Hill wrote in his letter sent to Wynne on Tuesday (Aug. 13).
“The reason they can act that way is because of the flawed Green Energy Act that allows them to steam roll over municipalities and individuals”.
In Thunder Bay the Horizon Wind Farm is NOT subject to any legal action at this time.
However Neebing is reported to be seeking a legal opinion.
Thunder Bay Has Consultant Onsite
The City has retained Dillon Consulting Limited to act as its construction consultant and monitor preconstruction activities on the site. Horizon is working with KBM, a local firm who are experts in forestry management.