Instead of exemptions or a more streamlined Class EAW, the OWA should be proposing amendments to provide for a much more rigorous and accountable process that ensures fish friendly turbines, effective and safe fish passage, a more rigorous cumulative effects assessment, and a more comprehensive and meaningful consultation process. We should be making our rivers more resilient in the face of climate change – not exempting waterpower projects from the Class EAW. Instead, the OWA and the Ontario government are placing our environment and communities at risk.
The ORA is opposed to this proposal that would gut the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA) and the Environmental Assessment (EA) program. Since the EAA was amended in 1996 there have been many official calls for an improved EAA and EA program, amongst those calls were the Environmental Commissioner for Ontario and the Auditor General of Ontario. Over this time, the EA program and EAA have become more and more streamlined, and this has led to increasing uncertainty for stakeholders and proponents.
Many individuals and groups embarking on the Part II Order process are new to it, have no legal assistance or background, and are unfamiliar with the terminology and rules; therefore, if we are truly aiming to provide help to the public it is extremely important that clear, succinct and concise instructions be provided in this policy/guidance document.
It is imperative that the Town of Erin examines every means possible to make its community more resilient to climate change, and most importantly, to protect its finite freshwater resources and its fishery. In fact, consideration of climate change was not even mentioned within the EA documentation, and ORA sees this as a major flaw, when it should have been included as a key consideration in the Scoring Matrix.
It was very surprising and disappointing to read your decision letter; however, it was somewhat understandable when the Minister’s decision was based upon inaccurate and unsupported responses contained within the Ministry Review (Review) document, Xeneca Power Development Inc.’s (Xeneca) correspondence, and the Environmental Report (ER). Continue reading
On March 14, 2014, Ontario Rivers Alliance (ORA) submitted a Part II Order request to the Minister of Environment on the Environmental Report for the Marter Township, Blanche River Hydroelectric proposal, on the grounds that, in our opinion, Xeneca Power Development Inc. did not meet the requirements of the Class Environmental Assessment for Waterpower (Class EA) in numerous areas.
ORA is pleased to report that today we received a response from the Minister’s office, stating that “based on the ministry’s review of the Environmental Report, Xeneca has failed to meet the Class EA requirements”.
The Ministry is requiring Xeneca to go back and correct several deficiencies. Once the deficiencies are corrected Xeneca can resubmit its Notice of Completion and Environmental Report. This will be very difficult for Xeneca to fulfill with just one employee and a cell phone. We are still awaiting decisions on the Part II Order requests ORA submitted on the Wabagishik, Frederick House and Ivanhoe Rivers Environmental Reports.
What was found in the PF was encouraging, and yet at the same time very concerning. It was encouraging to see that MOE concurred with ORA and VRS, when it reported “NR’s review of the ER indicated that in several instances, the proponent has not met the requirements of the Waterpower Class EA”; however, it was disturbing that “EAB has indicated they are considering denying the Part II Order requests with conditions, noting that it may be possible to impose detailed conditions to ensure all outstanding concerns are addressed”. This referenced document goes on to express the questions, concerns and uncertainty of how to deal with this deficient ER, and whether this would “expose the Ministry to any risk (ie: other proponents seeking the same level of direction during the proponent-driven EA process, or liability issues if the approach taken leads to unforeseen negative impacts on the environment or other users)”.
In November of 2011 ORA reviewed the Wanatango Falls Final Environmental Report (ER), and expressed concern to the Minister of Environment over its many deficiencies and uncertainties in our Part II Order request. It is surprising that after 2 ½ years of additional studies, preparation, and negotiating time, that this “Final” ER has not advanced in either its sophistication, readiness, or its economic and environmental viability or certainty. Xeneca is still not ready to bring this proposal through to Notice of Completion. Many crucial decisions have not yet been made so that the public and First Nations are left with many questions unanswered.
Healthy rivers are vital to our survival on this planet. Damming rivers to provide income for this generation is short-sighted and ill-advised, and will diminish a life-giving resource that is essential to the survival of our future generations.
This proposal has a Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) contract which pays a 50% peaking bonus for all power generated. FIT Contracts have a 40 year term. Projects with FIT contracts cannot be told to stop generating if Ontario has a surplus of power – they get paid for all power generated whether it is required or not. Proposed to produce 2.1 MW Installed Capacity, which with seasonal flows will more realistically produce 50% of that – approximately 1 MW of power.
ORA has made a Part II Order request to the Minister of Environment to elevate this proposal to an Individual Environmental Assessment – a much more rigorous environmental assessment. Awaiting MOE response.
Published: 14 March 2014
“It is ORA’s submission that Xeneca’s approach falls far short of their claims in many key aspects of this ER, and does its best to sell the reader on the project, with an approach of convincing the reader to just trust them, let them build it, and then through monitoring and adaptive management during pre and post construction the riverine ecosystem will be just fine. This approach is not acceptable.” Read more below: