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The proposal by Germany-based Prowind to build a wind “farm” near Woodstock Ontario is the subject of a complaint to the Ministry of the Environment, and the Office of the Ombudsman. While the application process is supposed to be “transparent” and open to the public, the truth is, documentation is not complete, and the Ministry and the proponent engage in correspondence that is not available to the public.

Joan Morris, Chair of the group East Oxford Community Alliance, wrote a letter to the Ministry of the Environment, both to the Minister and staff, demanding that approval not be granted to Prowind for the project, due to the failure to follow process. The letter follows:

Dear Minister,
I am writing to draw to your attention serious process issues at the Ministry of Environment with respect to renewable energy project reviews.  The public is being denied the opportunity to receive complete and accurate information regarding a project, and also to participate in the “iterative process” between the proponent and MOE reportedly occurring following the EBR comment period.
I trust you will investigate these issues in which Ontario citizens’ rights are being denied.
Sincerely,
Joan Morris
From: Joan Morris
Sent: June-23-14 11:15 AM
To: Garcia-Wright, Agatha (ENE)
Cc: ‘Eric Gillespie’
Subject: Environmental Approval Process – Gunn’s Hill Wind Project – “Iterative Process”
Dear Ms. Garcia-Wright,
In your letter dated April 25, 2014 you have indicated the following:
·         The MOE may require “additional information or clarification from the proponent”
·         The review process may be an “iterative process”
These points raise significant concern for reasons as follows:
·         The proponent has reportedly already deemed its application for the project to be complete and accurate (although our FOI request of April 13, 2014 has not yet been fulfilled to confirm this information)
·         MOE staff have deemed the application to be complete (again, results of FOI request pending at this time)
·         The iterative process conducted solely between the MOE and the proponent (without public disclosure or participation) is an admission that the application did not contain sufficient and accurate information for approval and therefore should not have been deemed complete and accurate by the proponent nor by the MOE.  This is also an admission that the information available for public review during the EBR comment period was not complete and accurate.
If the MOE has adopted practices such that the proponent’s REA documents are no longer required to be complete and accurate, and an “iterative process” between the proponent and MOE is accepted practice, then posting to the EBR is a sham and is misleading and deceptive to Ontario citizens.
In your letter of April 15, 2014, you state that projects are planned in a transparent manner, yet, the public appears to have no timely access to the ongoing communication between the MOE, proponent and other ministries.  It appears the only manner in which the public may obtain information is to submit FOI requests on an ongoing basis, to obtain information retrospectively and to incur costs.  Despite my submission of three FOI requests to the Ministry of Environment April 13, April 15 and May 27, 2014 with all applicable fees, as of June 23, I have received no documents whatsoever.  My rights as a citizen to obtain information regarding a project that directly impacts me are being violated due to your ministry’s failure to provide disclosure via either direct request to your agency or via the FOI process.  This, coupled with the “iterative process” between proponent and MOE leads me to reject your claim that projects are planned in a transparent manner, and in fact is reflective of a process designed to facilitate and “remove barriers” for the proponent to gain approval,  rather than to involve and protect the public.
Any iterative process should require that the public be involved at each stage and have the opportunity to participate in a transparent manner. I am not aware that the MOE has disclosed that the process is iterative until now.
I request that the MOE disclose:
·         The date when the iterative process was established between MOE and the proponent and its consultants. In particular please clarify whether the iterative process between MOE and the proponent and its consultants been in effect in the past; AND
·         The process by which the public will be advised of the iterative process;  AND
·         The process by which the public will be full participants in the iterative process;  AND
·         Whether the iterative process will replace the FOI process for obtaining disclosure.
I request that your agency deny the application of the Gunn’s Hill Wind Farm until such time as your Ministry discloses complete and accurate information to the public regarding all communication relating to this project, and the public has adequate opportunity to participate fully in the “iterative process” in an open and transparent manner.
Sincerely,
Joan Morris
Copy:    Eric Gillespie (lawyer)

 

See related story here.

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