The committee overseeing the maintenance of the Mill Lakes Watershed is opposing the development of the three-turbine Martock Ridge Community Wind Project in the proposed location.
Coun. Dave Seeley, chairperson of the watershed advisory committee, shared a motion the committee passed Aug. 1 with his fellow elected officials at Windsor town council’s Sept. 10 committee of the whole meeting.
“Basically what it says is the committee does not support the Martock Ridge Community Wind Project due to potential negative impact on water quality and would like the Town of Windsor to reconsider this project and take steps to prevent this type of activity from occurring within the water supply area now and in the future,” Seeley read aloud for council.
Hearing this recommendation, Mayor Paul Beazley said it is important to acknowledge the concerns of the watershed advisory committee if town council hopes to maintain the seven-year partnership with the stewards of the watershed.
He suggested it might be possible to have the developer — Scotian WindFields Inc., Scotian Wind Inc., and WEB Wind Energy North America Inc. — find three new locations for the turbines that everyone can agree are safe.
“The proponents argued that that would take it within one kilometre of homes and out of best wind channels,” explained Don Beatty, director of public works for the Town of Windsor.
CAO Louis Coutinho noted that the project has passed the Environmental Assessment stage, receiving the go-ahead from Nova Scotia Environment, and the Town of Windsor advised the watershed committee to air all of their concerns while the Environmental Assessment was underway.
Coutinho said the developer has made several changes in the spirit of addressing concerns, and council must consider the likelihood of some of the undesirable potential outcomes concerning the watershed committee occurring before making any final decisions about the fate of the project.
“The question is, what is the probability of all of the ‘what ifs’ they have raised,” he said.
He added that Nova Scotia Environment denied the watershed committee’s request to have the water supply land designated as a protected area, and reminded council that the town signed an Options Agreement with the developer.
“What the Options Agreement means is just that we will use all best efforts to try and reach an agreement with them.”
Seeley said he feels the developers have tried to relocate the windmills to the best of their abilities, but the advisory committee has not been happy with any of the proposed locations within the watershed area.
“This is almost a no-win, no-win situation,” Seeley said. “I think there is a possibility we could lose that partnership.”
A public process would have to take place for the proponents to secure a development agreement with the Municipality of West Hants to construct the wind farm on town-owned land located in Three Mile Plains.
Beazley stressed that he, in no way, feels the project is a done deal.
“To me, we still have a very difficult decision as to what is the role of the watershed advisory committee in this and what is our intention for the future management of that watershed property.”
The mayor expressed concern about rushing to a conclusion regarding the location of the turbines.
“If we want wind to see turbines up there we’ve got to do it in a way that makes sense for the watershed, not just the revenue model,” he said, receiving a nod of approval from Seeley.
After a lengthy discussion, council agreed to allow the process to continue, but wait for the determinations of processes currently underway before reaching a decision based on the recommendation from the Watershed Advisory Committee. Seeley was the only council member to vote against the motion permitting the project to continue.