Despite opposition Prince Edward County has opted to take the advice of the municipality’s solicitor and enter into a Road User Agreement with WPD Canada.
The agreement will see the wind proponent give the County an irrevocable letter of credit in the amount of $2.7 million. The lump sum will act as insurance for any potential damages to the 28 kilometres of road WPD intends to use if granted approval to construct its 27 turbine wind farm in South Marysburgh and Athol.
In front of a packed council chamber Tuesday night, County solicitor Wayne Fairbrother explained that this is a precedent setting agreement that states the County will remain an unwilling host and is in no way assisting WPD’s White Pine wind project propel through the application process.
“WPD’s Renewable Energy Agreement is still alive even though there is a partial stay on construction and a remedy hearing,” said Fairbrother. “Even if you don’t agree they can still go to the Ontario Energy Board and the director could issue a check mark for the RUA.”
Fairbrother wasn’t the only lawyer to address council.
Alan Whiteley a local attorney took the podium in opposition of the agreement saying it was ‘grossly insufficient. “This could go 45 years, another six councils and we will all be dead by then,” said Whiteley. “Someone will curse you if you make a mistake, we will all be dead.”
Fairbrother stated that just isn’t the case.
The issue was raised about protecting the specific rights of landowners, something Fairbrother stated the County is not getting involved in.
He said if WPD does the work there is a lien that’s protected under the agreement as well.
Tim Rorabeck was one of three County residents who stood up in support of the agreement. Rorabeck pointed to the large number of wind supporters in the crowd. “We want this road agreement,” he said. “We don’t want to have this taken away from us.”
Drew Harrison spoke to concerns of overloading the roughly 3,000 trucks that will be bringing equipment and potentially damaging the already exhausted County roads.
“The trucks won’t be overloaded,” said Harrison. “There are regulations in place. The trucks are weighed in on the 401. Anytime we do run overloaded it’s usually for the County,” he said chuckling before taking his seat. The gallery erupted in laughter and applause forcing a smiling mayor Robert Quaiff to ask for order.
After a lengthy discussion, council took a recorded vote with 11-4 in favour. (In favour: Jamie Forrester, Gordon Fox, Kevin Gale, Steve Graham, Treat Hull, Janice Maynard, Brad Neiman, Roy Pennell, Bill Roberts, Barry Turpin, Jim Dunlop. Opposed: Dianne O’Brien, Lenny Epstein, Steve Fergueson and mayor Robert Quaiff).
Following the meeting Mayor Robert Quaiff said while he supports council’s decision, for him to vote in favour of the motion would have gone against his principles.
Quaiff said he has been against this project from the get go pointing to the countless meetings he has had with members of provincial parliament and citizens.
John Hirsch who is one of the appellants in the case against WPD told Quinte News in an interview that he is not impressed with council’s decision.
“The County doesn’t understand the impact of the agreement,” said Hirsch.
Hirsch said it’s looking like the hearing for WPD to propose construction remedies will be in August.