Interested observers continued to give up their personal time to attend the Divisional Court hearing today. About 40 people attended. It is wonderful how many people have been willing to come from the County in the middle of the week to support PECFN.
Sitting in the Court one begins to wonder about the whole process. PECFN is here to defend the decision of the Environmental Review Tribunal. The Tribunal is not in Court. The Ministry of Natural Resources is not in Court and yet the decision of that ministry to allow species at risk to be killed, harmed or harassed at Ostrander Point is being discussed at length. The Tribunal was a creature of the MOE and yet the MOE trying to prove that the Tribunal made the wrong decision. Shouldn’t the MOE be supporting its own creation? Myrna asks “Are we going down the rabbit hole here?”
The Gilead and Ministry of Environment lawyers spent the morning discussing whether the Environmental Review Tribunal’s decision was in conflict with the Environmental Protection Act and why there was no evidence given about the numbers of Blanding’s turtles at Ostrander Point, the amount of vehicular traffic or the potential increase in vehicular traffic if the project is approved. Throughout, the 9 turbine Industrial Wind Turbine project at Ostrander Point was described as a” Public Infrastructure Project”. As you can imagine, this description made the majority of the observers gag! The next topic was the suggestion that the Tribunal should have considered alternatives to the project – i.e. made a provision that the roads be closed to the public and offered to approve the project with that condition. Again there was protracted discussion about the relationship between the ERT and the ESA permit issued by the MNR.
Eric Gillespie spent the afternoon responding to the arguments of the MOE and Gilead. At this juncture we have to say a very special “Thank you” to Natalie Smith. Natalie spent the fall analysing the ERT decision and preparing for the counter appeal by Gilead and the MOE. She has been at Eric’s side throughout and provides the extra knowledge to make sure that we are successful in defending the appeal.
Justice Nordheim put a little wrinkle in the proceedings when he asked Eric to show him where in the ERT analysed the difference between “serious” and “irreversible”. He wanted to be able to follow the ERT’s reasons for coming to the decision that the Gilead project would cause irreversible damage to the Blanding’s Turtles at Ostrander Point. Of course, Eric and Natalie were able to find several instances in the decision that showed the analysis of the ERT and how they came to the decision to turn down the Gilead project.
The appeal continues tomorrow morning at 9:30. The APPEC appeal is scheduled for Thursday afternoon. I will report on the final few hours of the PECFN appeal tomorrow evening when I get back to the County.
Thank you to everyone for your continued support and for the encouraging messages.