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Victorious and Glorious:  Ostrander is saved!
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Victorious and Glorious:  Ostrander is saved!

[caption id="attachment_21694" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Ted Cheskey Ted Cheskey
Senior Conservation Manager – Bird Conservation, Education & Networks[/caption] Nature Canada’s moto with regard to wind energy projects is that they should be about “good ideas in good places.” We recognize that many, perhaps most of the existing projects on the land could be considered in this way. However, for the past 7 years we have opposed a project proposed on the Ostrander Point Crown Land Block in Prince Edward County, considering it as the worst example of project siting that we have seen. Nature Canada staff appeared before the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) in 2013 and before the Ontario Appeal Court in 2015 in support of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and in opposition to this egregious project. [caption id="attachment_27995" align="alignright" width="238"]Image of Myrna Wood and Ted Cheskey Figure 1: PECFN President Myrna Wood and Nature Canada's Ted Cheskey stroll through the habitats of Ostrander Point[/caption] From our perspective, the location of this project crossed all of the lines. It was proposed: in the centre of a globally significant Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, within a candidate Life Sciences Area of Natural and Scientific Interest, on globally imperilled alvar habitat, within the habitat for several species at risk including Blanding’s Turtle and Eastern Whippoorwill, and within one of the most significant migration corridors for birds of prey including Golden Eagle (a record of 64 reporting on one day alone), landbirds, and migrating bats in Eastern Canada. Heck, the MNR even sponsored a plan to restore habitat for the endangered Henslow’s Sparrow on the property around 2000. Most significant is the fact these lands are owned by the Province of Ontario as a Crown Land Block. We used to consider Crown land blocks as secured conservation land and relatively easy additions to address our huge deficit in protected areas in the south of Ontario. With all of these virtues, any sort of development or industrialization seemed absurd to us and our close partners, the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and Ontario Nature. Yet the proponent and the Ontario Government fought the ERT’s original decision to reject the project from the Tribunal through the Divisional Court and the Ontario Court of Appeal, before it landed back in the lap of the ERT for sober second thought. Well, after three years of circulating through the court system we can breathe a collective sigh of relief and recognize that there is justice in this world in reading the great news from the Tribunal on their Ostrander Point ERT hearing decision. The Tribunal found that “the remedies proposed by Ostrander [Gilead] and the Director are not appropriate in the unique circumstances of this case.  The Tribunal finds that the appropriate remedy . . . is to revoke the Director’s decision to issue the REA [Renewable energy Approval]”.   [caption id="attachment_27996" align="alignleft" width="107"]Image of Hairy Beard's Tongue Figure 2: Hairy Beard's Tongue in Ostrander Alvar[/caption] There were many significant and unequivocal statements in the decision that send clear messages to everyone involved in these hearings. For example, the Tribunal noted the inconsistency with which the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Fisheries (MNRF) has treated these lands – recognizing them as a “candidate” Area of Natural and Scientific Interest” on one hand, while entering into an agreement with the proponent to allow over five kilometres of private roads in prime habitat on the other hand. The Tribunal also noted the relevance in determining “the appropriate remedy that the candidate ANSI has not been evaluated by MNRF to determine if it merits qualification, and any additional protections that would entail; instead, roads will be introduced on this area of Crown land that, in addition to being a candidate Life Sciences ANSI is known critical habitat for species at risk” (many others in addition to Blanding’s Turtle, including a significant population of Eastern Whippoorwill). Most importantly, the decision noted that “although the promotion of renewable energy and its related benefits, and streamlining approvals are important factors in consideration of the public interest, the Tribunal finds that not proceeding with this nine wind turbine Project in this location best serves the general and renewable energy approval purposes in sections 3(1) and 47.2 (1) of the EPA, the public interest under 47.5 and the precautionary principle and ecosystem approach.” Wind energy producers and the Ontario Government need to take notice that there are areas where renewable energy projects are clearly not in the public interest. We call on the provincial government to recognize finally that renewable energy projects are not welcome in critical habitat of species at risk or Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs). [caption id="attachment_27999" align="aligncenter" width="567"]Image of a Blandings Turtle Figure 3 Blanding's Turtle at Ostrander Point[/caption]

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Construction project in critical habitat gets nod from Ontario court, Nature Canada dismayed
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Construction project in critical habitat gets nod from Ontario court, Nature Canada dismayed

February 21, 2014 (Ottawa) – Nature Canada is dismayed at the decision by the Ontario Divisional Court to green light a construction project in an important site for endangered species. The court’s ruling overturns the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal’s decision to stop a wind energy project in a globally Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA). The site is located on provincially owned land in Ostrander Point, Prince Edward County. Last year, the tribunal found that the project would cause serious and irreversible harm to Blanding’s Turtles, an endangered species. It also had the potential to harm bird and bat populations as well as important natural habitat. For those reasons and others, the Tribunal ruled the project could not continue. Prince Edward Country Field Naturalists (PECFN), supported by Nature Canada, launched the appeal which stopped the project from moving forward. However, this latest ruling sets the bar even higher for citizens’ groups and naturalists seeking to challenge government decisions that pose a threat to species at risk and migratory birds. Nature Canada has long pushed for wind energy projects to be built in areas that make sense rather than in areas that would greatly harm local biodiversity and endangered species. We are extremely disappointed with the court’s decision to overturn the Tribunal’s ruling and go on side with Gilead Power, the developer behind the project. We do, however, applaud the efforts of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, led by President Myrna Wood, who worked tirelessly to protect this critical natural habitat from development. -30- [one_half][separator headline="h2" title="About Nature Canada:"] Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, we’ve helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and the countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, we represent a network of over 45,000 members & supporters and more than 350 nature organizations in every province across Canada. Our mission is to protect and conserve nature in Canada by engaging Canadians and by advocating on behalf of nature. [/one_half] [one_half_last][separator headline="h2" title="Media contacts:"] Paul Jorgenson, Senior Communications Manager, Nature Canada 613-562-3447 ext. 248 pjorgenson@naturecanada.ca Monica Tanaka, Communications Coordinator, Nature Canada 613-562-3447 ext 241 mtanaka@naturecanada.ca [/one_half_last]

A Win for Nature: Ontario Tribunal Rules Against Wind Energy Farm in IBA
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A Win for Nature: Ontario Tribunal Rules Against Wind Energy Farm in IBA

Yesterday, a decision from the Ontario Environmental Tribunal overturned a Ministry of Environment decision to build a wind farm in a globally significant Important Bird Area (IBA) along the shoreline of eastern Lake Ontario.“This is a huge win for nature” said Ian Davidson, Executive Director of Nature Canada. “For the first time, the Environmental Review Tribunal has recognized that wind farms can cause significant and irreversible harm to wildlife, in this case the threatened Blanding’s turtle.” It's been over two years since Gilead Power Corporation submitted a proposal to construct a 9-turbine wind energy farm at Ostrander Point, in Prince Edward County, Ontario. Since then, naturalist groups have fought to put an end to the project. Prince Edward Country Field Naturalists (PECFN), supported by Nature Canada, launched an appeal of the Ministry’s December 20, 2012 approval of the so-called Ostrander Project. At stake were 324 hectares of provincial Crown land in Prince Edward County, home to endangered species like Blanding's Turtle. As a site of an Important Bird Area, the Crown Land represents a vital place for birds, and poorly placed wind projects such as the one proposed by Gilead Power could harm bird populations already in decline. In its appeal, PECFN argued that the Ostrander Project would have caused serious and irreversible harm to birds as well as to Blandings turtles. Nature Canada strongly believes that migratory birds such as tree swallows and purple martins as well as species at risk such as eastern whip-poor-wills would have suffered serious and irreversible harm and regrets that the Tribunal did not accept PECFN’s submissions on this point. “Wind farms simply should not be built in Important Bird Areas, which are designated internationally for their significance to migratory bird species” said Davidson “Nature Canada strongly supports appropriately sited renewable energy projects, but important habitats for migratory birds and species at risk are not appropriate sites. The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists and Eric Gillespie and his legal team did a fantastic job in terms of carrying this fight forward on nature’s behalf”. For a full background on the issue, including links to videos and photos of the site, please see our Ostrander Point blog posts. PECFN's press release on the issue is available here.

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