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Tribunal appeals expected, but troublesome

Right at the August 2nd deadline, three appeals were launched against the recent decisions of the Environmental Review Tribunal relating to Ostrander Point. The first two were by Ostrander Point Wind Energy LP (alias Gilead Power) and the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) respectively against the Tribunal’s decision, sought by Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN), to disallow 9 wind turbines on the grounds of serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s Turtles, an endangered species. The third, by the Association to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) appeals the Tribunal’s decision dismissing APPEC’s claim that the turbines would cause serious harm to human health.
Dealing with them in reverse order, the APPEC appeal was to be expected, given the evidence provided by several witnesses, described as “credible” by the Tribunal, of serious health problems suffered in close proximity to existing Ontario wind factories and the linking of those problems to the operation of turbines by outstanding medical experts.

The appeal by Gilead Power was also to be expected; it has invested considerable time and resources on its own behalf and for its major investor to secure an above average, Ontario Government (read taxpayer) guaranteed, return over a minimum 20 year period and can afford to retain one of the largest and most expensive of Canadian law firms. If its appeal is successful, it is claiming costs from PECFN, a small not-for-profit which totally depends on the generosity mostly of individual County residents.
The appeal by MOE could not likely have occurred without approval from the Ontario government of which it is a part, specifically of the Cabinet which includes the Premier. It is unlikely that any Ministry or Minister would act on its or his/her own initiative without such approval on a matter of major delicacy and importance. The only implications to be drawn seem to be that the Premier’s efforts to distance herself from her predecessor and her assurances of more cordial relations and cooperation with rural municipalities on Green Energy Act matters are spent. And let us not forget that the salaries of the MOE lawyers are paid by many of those very taxpayers in opposition to MOE’s position.

There are other troubling aspects about Ostrander Point. The Tribunal was not allowed to hear evidence about the devastating cumulative effects on one of Canada’s major flyways which has existed for millennia from turbines existing or planned on Wolfe Island, Amherst Island, Prince Edward County and the mainland to the east, and offshore when the moratorium is lifted. Nor has the Ministry of Natural Resources, the owner of Ostrander Point in trust for Ontario residents, disclosed exactly how much payment it will receive each year from Gilead for each of the nine turbines. And is there not a conflict of interest in one Ministry issuing a permit to Gilead to erect turbines which would facilitate the receipt by a sister Ministry of such payments? And then exacerbating the initial conflict by appealing?

In the world of the Green Energy Act, democracy is paid but lip service. The only prospective ray of light at the moment is that the appeals are to the Divisional Court of the Superior Court of Ontario on alleged “points of law”. Superior Court judges are of a high calibre, federally appointed and completely independent.
If ever PECFN and APPEC needed our help, it is now. Go to their websites to see how we can all step up to the plate. Their websites are www.saveostranderpoint.org and www.appec.ca
Garth Manning.
Chair, CCSAGE.
Wellington.

Filed Under: Letters and OpinionNews from Everywhere Else

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  1. Mark says:

    I would say that the over population of the planet and having to supply more and more resources to support that is the biggest threat to the environment.

  2. duh says:

    The extraction, transportation, refining, and burning of oil is the single biggest threat to the environment and the planet.

    I guarantee everyone that reads this article is somehow invested in oil. Check your pension plan, portfolio, etc…

    So stop crying.

  3. Mark says:

    Gary, that is what I thought I explained when I outlined governance in the two separate plans. When OPSEU went their separate way, managers and non union stayed with the OPB guaranteed defined benefit plan. Perhaps I was not clear.

  4. Gary Mooney says:

    Myrna, I checked on the OPTrust website, which says that the government and OPSEU each appoint 5 trusteed of the plan, so there is joint control.

    Chris, It was I who originally suggested that NDP MPPs are members of the OPSEU Pension Plan, but I was wrong. It is the bargaining unit (employees) of NDP headquarters who belong. The NDP itself has no ownership in the plan.

    Mark, the Ontario Pension Board is the manager of the Public Service Pension Plan, which covers employees (including management) not covered by the OPSEU Pension Plan. Two different groups of employees; two separate pension plans.

  5. Mark says:

    When OPSEU (unionized employees) took over control of their own pension plan in the 1990’s they were able to do what they wished with any gains/surplusses and investments. They are also solely responsible for any losses. Those government employees remaining in the Ontaro Pension Board plan have no control over the fund. The Board which is government sponsored reaps the gains but is also responsible for the losses not the plan members. Two distinct operating plans in terms of control and funded liabilities.

  6. Mark says:

    When OPSEU (unionized employees) took over control of their own pension plan in the 1990″s they were able to do what they wished with any gains/surplusses and investments. They are also solely responsible for any losses. Those government employees remaining in the Ontario Pension Board plan have no control over the fund. The board (government sponsered) reaps the gains but is also responsible for losses,not the plan members. Two distinct operating plans in terms of control and funding.

  7. Chris Keen says:

    Also, Gary, the provincial NDP are part owners as Gilead shares ownership of this entity with OPTrust, managers of the pension plan that includes members of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union (OPSEU) and the NDP MPP caucus.

    From OPTrust’s website – in order to insure sustainable returns they added “energy commodities to the portfolio, both as a diversifier and for their strong inflation hedging characteristics”. i.e. guaranteed spectacular rate of return!

  8. Myrna Wood says:

    Gary thanks for the info. You say Ontario employees own their pension fund, however they do not control it. The government appoints its managers to run the fund. A recent appointee was previously a manager of Ornge and before that E-health! If I worked for the government I would be worried about my pension.

  9. Gary Mooney says:

    I have done some research into who owns this wind project. The Ostrander Point wind project is now owned by Ostrander Point Wind Energy LP. “LP” stands for limited partnership. Think of it as an arrangement with a managing partner and investment partners.

    As far as I know, Gilead Power is the managing partner of the project. OPTrust, which manages the OPSEU Pension Plan, is an investment partner, through 80% ownership in a subsidiary called Firelight Infrastructure Partners.

    The OPSEU pension plan is owned by members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, not by the provincial government.

    OPTrust’s investment in this wind project was made in 2011, when the project was in the early stages of the approval process.

    It’s highly unlikely that OPSEU members know about their pension plan’s investment in a project that would damage the natural environment.

    Some pension plans have an “ethical” investment policy whereby investments are made only in businesses deemed ethical — e.g. not in tobacco companies or arms manufacturers.

    A case can be made for considering investments in wind projects to be unethical, if they are built too close to where people live, or in locations that will harm the natural environment.

  10. Myrna Wood says:

    Doris, Gilead is owned by Bay St big bucks, many of which are from oil companies just like most of the wind developers in Ontario.
    A couple of years ago the Ontario government started investing in Gilead through its pension fund, probably to bolster the company’s confidence in getting an approval.
    Ontario’s employees have no say in where their pension funds are invested.
    Such disinformation as you received does us all a dis-service by targeting the wrong people.

  11. Doris Lane says:

    Someone told me Gilead was owned by the NDP–not sure that is correct. As Mark says what choice do we have.
    I like Todd Smith but not Hudak.

  12. Mark says:

    The same can be said with our Conservative Federal government. And provincially Hudak is a Harris clone that can”t win and the NDP spend like drunken sailors . The province is on a financial brink and no clear choices to lead us out. The electorate has been closed out.

  13. Argyle says:

    We have a morally corrupt and self serving government in Ontario. Kathleen Wynne is a student of Dalton,she will do nothing to change this situation.

  14. Doris Lane says:

    It is time the Premier stepped in and stopped this nonsense at ostrander point. Government approval should never have been given for this project

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