KAWARTHA LAKES: The Court of Appeal has decided to uphold a decision made by the Divisional Court in 2015, which found that the City of Kawartha Lakes acted in bad faith by blocking the usage of Wild Turkey Rd. for the Sumac Ridge Wind project.
The decision was officially announced on Wednesday, June 22. As part of the decision by the appeal court, the City will have to pay WPD Canada Corporation, the company working on the wind project, $30,000 in legal costs. This is on top of $55,000 that the City already paid WPD after the Divisional Court proceedings. The City also spent $224,000 on the Divisional Court application and $60,000 on the appeal.
“We are understandably very disappointed in the decision, given the public opposition to this development within the sensitive environmental feature of the Oak Ridges Moraine. We do, however, respect the court’s decision, and will cooperate with the proponent to implement the Provincial Renewable Energy Approval,” Kawartha Lakes CAO Ron Taylor said, in an e-mail statement to The Standard.
Kevin Surette of WPD Canada told The Standard that they are “pleased” with the court’s decision, and are “looking forward to moving to construction shortly.”
The project involves putting up five industrial wind turbines near Ballyduff Rd. and Gray Rd., south of Bethany. It was approved by the province in late 2013. For things to move forward, Wpd wanted to widen an unopened portion of Wild Turkey Rd. However, in March 2014, Council passed a resolution that denied the use of the road for the wind project.
"Throughout the development process, we reached out a number of times to the City about the use of Wild Turkey Rd., and that should show how much we wanted to work with the City, and that was frustrating," Mr. Surette said. "There was no appetite on their part to discuss the use of Wild Turkey Rd.”
The company then took the matter to the Divisional Court, where the decision was made that the City had acted in bad faith, and had overstepped on provincial jurisdiction. The City then appealed the decision, alleging the Divisional Court made errors in making the final decision.
However, the appeal court found the Divisional Court “did not commit any review-able error” and agreed the City had acted in bad faith “to frustrate the Sumac Ridge Approval and prevent wind energy projects from being constructed.”
The court also found the decision to block the use of the road was simply motivated by the City’s “opposition to the project.”
Mr. Surette told The Standard that construction on the project is expected to begin towards the end of this summer or early in the fall.