BERWICK – The township of North Stormont’s council has voted in favour of continuing regular status reports concerning the Nation Rise Wind Farm project.
During the June 15 meeting, in addition to requesting that council approve the most recent report on the project’s status, chief administrative officer Craig Calder also recommended that council rescind a previous resolution requiring regular status reports. Calder said Nation Rise is all but finished, leaving little to report going forward. North Stormont politicians voted against the recommendation as presented. An amended motion was put forward and approved.
With the project ready to become operational, Calder said the issues that arise now will be in the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks (MECP)’s jurisdiction. The road-use review is to be done the first week in July, and this, Calder said, will fall to the MECP to oversee. As for potential health concerns once Nation Rise is operational, this will fall under the public health officer’s jurisdiction, Calder said.
“If there are any issues going forward, those will be addressed by other agencies,” Calder said. “The original request for these regular reports was intended to ensure council and the public were aware on the current construction activities of the wind farm project. With the construction complete and commercial operations slated for June 17, the CAO does not see merit or requirements to continue these reports. The construction information provided in these historical reports is publicly available on the EDP Renewables (EDPR) website.”
Mayor Jim Wert also made note of EDPR’s project-devoted website (nationrisewindfarm.com), which incudes background information and instructions on how to contact EDPR about the project. Currently, there is an itinerary of construction activities for the weeks of June 28 to July 4 and July 5 to July 11.
While Deputy Mayor François Landry acknowledged the many avenues for public access to project information updates, he said he would like to see regular updates of some kind continue until after the clean-up is completed, and the turbines are in operation.
Calder said the community benefit payment promised by EDPR is currently being processed, as it must be paid to the township within 60 days of operation. Councillor Roxane Villeneuve suggested waiting until the $300,000 in funds were in township hands before counting them, and subsequently listed the reasons the regular reports should continue.
“There are still outstanding items that are not completed yet,” she said. “Roads are in very bad shape due to the traffic and construction going on due to the turbines. We also know the start is supposed to be in the next two days, but we don’t know that will happen. There are many things that can happen in those 60 days that could change and not warrant that $300,000. We need to have an update by our CAO and by [Public Works Superintendent Blake Henderson] so that we are ensured that the agreement is followed and so that everything is in place for us as a municipality, so the wool is not pulled over our eyes, so that we ensure the accountability of Nation Rise Wind Farm and EDPR with our residents. We need to continue to be accountable and open with the residents of our township.”
Calder said the commercial date was supposed to be June 17. He said the process to become operational is already underway.
“If you want to know where they’re going to be working, you want to go to their website. No matter how you feel about Green Energy, they’re basically doing a job they were hired to do. Their professionalism has been exceptional,” Wert said.
Wert moved to alter the recommended motion. He suggested accepting Calder’s recommendation to rescind the report requirement but add that regular updates continue to be provided via other avenues.
Two recorded votes were taken. The first was for Calder’s original recommendation. In a 3-2 vote Landry, Villeneuve, and Wert opposed this, while Councillors Steve Densham and Randy Douglas approved. A new motion, one to rescind the original policy and replace it with updates from staff, was subsequently approved in a near-unanimous vote. Douglas abstained from voting. Calder is expected to continue providing updates to council in his regular CAO Reports.