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wpd withdraws benefits offer following ‘several press reports’ – council meeting cancelled due to weather

UPDATE March 24 – Today’s committee of the whole meeting has been cancelled due to treacherous weather, and rescheduled for Thursday, March 31st at 1pm.
“I spoke with the duty forecaster at CFB Trenton who said heavier freezing rain is to begin close to noon and PEC is in the system,” said Mayor Robert Quaiff. “I do not wish to put my residents, council, or staff at risk.”

MARCH 23 – On the eve of council’s meeting to discuss a Road Users Agreement and Community Benefit Agreement between wpd Canada and the County, the industrial turbine development company president has withdrawn its benefits offer.

“After reading several press reports from PEC regarding our offer of a Community Benefits agreement, I would like to withdraw the CBA offer/agreement at this time so that council can focus their deliberations on the road use agreement which is the time sensitive matter,” said Ian MacRae, president of wpd Canada.

Mayor Robert Quaiff stated earlier this week in a message to councillors that Thursday’s motion represents one of the most important council has ever had to consider for the good of constituents and he’s hoping his council will agree to turn down the agreements.

He stated he sees several deficiencies in the agreements and acceptance would “only strengthen wpd’s position returning to the ERT”.

An Environmental Review Tribunal suspended wpd Canada’s Renewable Energy Approval (REA) for the project February 26, ruling the 27-turbine development would cause serious and irreversible damage to Blanding’s Turtles and Little Brown Bats. The suspension is in effect pending future, not yet announced, mitigation hearings.

Earlier this month, wpd officials informed appellants John Hirsch and the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County it would commence with vegetation clearing at the site as early as March 14. APPEC’s motion of stay on the work was filed immediately and was denied Tuesday, March 22 with no published reason for the dismissal.

“I have fought for years to keep turbines out of the County, recognizing early on how badly they would affect everything we hold dear, not to mention our economy, our tourist industry and our property and business values,” said Quaiff in his message earlier this week. “The contrary spin of the wind industry is professionally and effectively done, but please don’t for a moment believe their avaricious approach and intentions.”

County groups opposed to industrial turbines being built on the south shore of the County are calling citizens to rally at Thursday’s meeting.

“Any agreement with wpd now is premature until the Environmental Review Tribunals for Ostrander Point and the White Pines wind projects are finished,” said Orville Walsh, president of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County.

In MacRae’s letter to withdraw, he stated “the White Pines REA is still in effect even while we are seeking remedy to the ERT panel’s specific concerns.”

The Community Benefits Agreement described financial payments to the County. The Road Users Agreement with wpd is a fulfillment of Condition N of the REA (Renewable Energy Approval received on Oct. 25, 2013) and the Community Benefits Agreement was a fulfilment of a condition requested by the County.

On approval by the REA, wpd would build a 27-turbine wind generation project consisting of turbines, electrical transformers, access roads and interconnecting electrical lines. Condition N requires wpd to file a Traffic Management Plan and to make reasonable efforts to enter into a road users agreement with the County. As requested in the County’s “Municipal Matters to be Addressed” document, the County’s solicitor and wpd formed a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) to be approved.

The County requested annual payments of $7,500 per megawatt, plus profit sharing based on four per cent of the output, plus annual cost of living, exclusive of regular taxes and recovery of costs. This request was not acceptable to wpd. The alternative payment has been negotiated in consultation between staff, wpd and the respective solicitors. The proposed CBA provided framework for an annual payment by wpd of $7,000 per turbine ($3,500 per megawatt) toward community benefitting works within the County. The amount would be increased to $8,500 per turbine in years 11-15 and $9,500 per turbine in years 16 to the end of term.

The CBA required the County to “ensure that wpd is appropriately recognized by the County for the financial contributions made by wpd to the Community Benefit Reserve Fund for the betterment of the community.”

“I believe as deeply and as strongly as any man can that we have to stand up and say ‘NO MORE!’,” continued Quaiff in his message to councillors. ” …I want no part of them nor of their bribe and I urge you to join me in voting a resounding “NO WAY” on Thursday.”

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  1. Fred says:

    Meeting today @ 1:00 p.m.

  2. Gary says:

    Back on the agenda at the Shire Hall that hasn’t changed since the 50’s tomorrow.

  3. Jackie Soorsma says:

    I am trying to find out what the route is from Hwy. 401 to County Road 10. Should there not be a plan for transporting turbine components from the 401 to county Road 10. Below is what happens when I try to acces the White Pines WindFarm Website.

    Welcome to the White Pines Windfarm website.

    This site is being reformatted. Please check back after April 4th

  4. Dennis Fox says:

    Susan – for the record, I am in no way related to Councillor Fox. I too was very disappointed with his flipping on this issue – just like Ferguson. Nieman, Epstein and Hull. These councillors have a lot to answer for before they are hopefully replaced after the next election. With the Ameliasburgh Trio joining them!

  5. Susan says:

    The Councilor that sluffed off any possibility of an OMB was a “Fox”. The trio from Ameliasburgh have shown they only care about voting control and only what betters that Ward rather than the County. And then you have the newbies who ran to change Council and then caved under pressure. Good luck with this bunch Mayor!

  6. Dennis Fox says:

    Hi Susan – I agree with everything you say, but it is time for the mayor and council to start working together – it is the community who pays for it in the end if they don’t. I would have a great respect for a mayor or councillor who placed the community first and started publicly challenging some of these bonehead types on council who want to do nothing other than to stall and obstruct decisions for a better future. I think the best thing the public could do is to let our mayor and councillors know that we are prepared to experience some upset on council, but will have our support if they want to lead the way. The way it is now and has been for far too many years has become a very sad and expensive joke being played on the taxpayers of PEC. From the size of council issue to the firing of the CAO, the fiasco at McFarland House and now with a basic road agreement – nothing can happen without it becoming a problem with our council. They are dysfunctional – so give the mayor and the few good ones some slack and let them have a go at the – well, err, um, not so good ones! What do we have to lose?

  7. Susan says:

    Easier said than done Dennis. The Mayor warned Council repeatedly about the strong likelyhood of an OMB on the Council Size issue. They turned a deaf ear and one sluffed the possibility off as a little to do about nothing. Leading this pack is not an easy task.

  8. Dennis Fox says:

    There have been times when I have disagreed with our mayor, but this is not one of those times. I appreciate his comments and I believe that Mayor Quaiff is trying his best to persuade council to delay any decision on the Road Agreement with WPD. I hope council listens – this agreement does not have to be dealt with at this time and it has left us all scratching our heads asking what is going on at Shire Hall? Just why would staff bring forward such a report at this time, with a lawyers opinion in advance and under whose direction are they following? It is time for the mayor to take control and to get all of council stroking together and in the same direction. Our community has been through enough of dealing with the fallout of a divided council – enough already! Go get em Robert!

  9. doug says:

    Wait till wpd gets this approval then the other 43 turbines will appear as the second part of their wind farm project.

  10. Fred says:

    Accepted, and thanks for the timely response. I do understand given the endless battles. No one wished Turbines upon you and most all support your dedicated cause to keep them out. It must be exhausting given the limited control.

  11. Robert Quaiff says:

    Fred , yes sorry I should have said our residents , please accept my apologies , I meant no disrespect

  12. Susan says:

    And the Mayor’s open letter to Council that referenced his legacy is distasteful. A legacy is not usually referred to a little over a year in Office particularly when the Council Size debacle is very fresh in minds! Even if we had successes to applause,it would be a tad early.

  13. Fred says:

    The Mayor canceled the Committee of the Whole and closed Municipal Offices at noon. In that statement he stated concern for “MY” residents, Council and Staff. I am of the belief that none of the above are the Mayors. The Mayor, Council and Staff are accountable to the residents. The residents do not belong to the Mayor or Shire Hall (Heaven Forbid).

  14. Gary says:

    What protects the County from a liability standpoint down the road if they enter into an agreement and accept a benefit? I believe they could be named as being party to the damages.

  15. Chris Keen says:

    If Council is wise they will defer discussion of the Road Users Agreement until the ERT rulings have been handed down and any chance of appeal has been exhausted.

  16. Cheryl Anderson says:

    Re: solar installations in the County. As a naturalist and a birder it gives me pain to see the nesting habitat of Bobolinks and Meadowlarks plowed up and exposed to barrages of herbicides to provide sites for solar installations. I too wish that more people had become involved in demanding more careful siting of these installations. However, I also realize there is only so much volunteer energy in the County and there is a lot to do – hospital, road maintenance, historical structures etc. I and others have had to pick our battles. The fight against IWTs in the important habitat in the South Shore has mostly been waged by volunteers. My message is – if you are concerned you really have to make a commitment and get involved.

  17. Marc says:

    Leigh-Anne: The local impact of solar farms is negligible compared to windfarms. We do I’ll still use electricity after all.

  18. Gary says:

    Now the carrot is just out of reach. Just dangling above the Mayors head. WPD have removed the bribery claim. So much game playing!

  19. Leigh-Anne says:

    I wish the County would fight against solar farms half as much as they fight against wind turbines. Such an eyesore and sad to see so much land destroyed by these acres and acres of mirrors.

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