Ontario’s Environment Minister Jeff Yurek has responded to being named in charges regarding the Ontario Court of Justice determining there are reasonable grounds to believe environmental offenses were committed at several wind turbine projects in Chatham-Kent.
Ontario’s environment minister, Jeff Yurek, has responded to being named in recent charges regarding environmental offences allegedly committed at several wind turbine projects in Chatham-Kent.
The private prosecution charges are under section 14 of the Environmental Protection Act and were submitted by Christine Burke, a Chatham-Kent resident, according to the court summons document. The Ontario Court of Justice determined there were reasonable grounds to believe that environmental offences had been committed.
Yurek is accused in one document of failing to take reasonable care to prevent the installation and operation of the turbines at the East Lake St. Clair Wind Farm, run by Engie Canada, and at the North Kent 1 Wind Farm, run by Pattern Energy Group and Samsung Renewable Energy, from discharging, or causing or permitting the discharge of contaminants.
The Ontario Ministry of the Environment is accused in another document.
When the charges were originally announced in late July, a spokesperson from Yurek’s office said “as the matter is before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment.”
However, Yurek submitted a statement on the matter to Chatham Daily News this week, noting it wasn’t his government that approved the wind projects at the centre of the charges.
“While the resident chose to name me in the charges as the current minister responsible on this file, it is my hope that the future media coverage will accurately reflect that these decision (were) made under the previous Liberal government,” Yurek said.
Yurek said the previous Liberal government “forced wind projects into the backyards of unwilling communities in municipalities across Ontario.”
The Municipality of Chatham-Kent, which is not named in the action, holds a 15 per cent equity interest in North Kent Wind through its affiliate, Entegrus Renewable Energy Inc.
“The municipality offered to pay for testing, water testing, for residents. … (We’ve) tried to engage the Ministry of the Environment, who have jurisdiction over the wind turbines and environmental matters,” John Norton, the municipality’s general manage of community development and chief legal officer, previously told the Chatham Daily News.
Yurek said he’s “taking the public’s concerns about the wind projects very seriously and will continue to stand with the families living in Chatham-Kent.”
In July, the province announced an independent panel will conduct a health-hazard review of the area’s private water wells after residents voiced concerns over sediment in their water. That review will focus on the water’s quality and not the source of the sediment.