AOK requests an extension of comment deadline for wind turbines

AUNDECK OMNI KANING—The McLean’s wind farm project proposed by the Northland Power Inc. (NPI) was a major issue on the agenda of the newly elected chief and council of Aundeck Omni Kaning (AOK) First Nation’s annual planning session.

As a result, Chief Patsy Corbiere told The Expositor on Monday that her community will be sending a request for a delay in the Ministry of Environment’s (MOE) 60-day public review and comment period of the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) report on the proposed wind farm project. The due date for comment is this week, Friday, January 27.

Chief Corbiere explained that she and her council felt there was not a proper consultation process with the community as to the location of the McLean’s wind farm project nor was there a proper update on the state of the negotiations and the agreement between Northland Power and the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising Tribal Council.

The present council also felt they are not fully prepared to endorse or reject the wind farm project and, as such, are requesting a suspension to the REA report or, at the very minimum, an extension to the 60-day public review and comment period.

The council unanimously agreed to send a letter asking the MOE to allow the AOK First Nation the opportunity to offer a proper consultation period with its band members and to have a final comment on the wind farm project.

“The council feels the duty to consult and offer the community an opportunity to fully understand the impact of wind farms is a fundamental requirement,” Chief Corbiere said.

A meeting will be held for all registered band members of AOK to seek their direct input on this development. A date for this meeting has not yet been set.

When contacted Monday, Kristina Rudzki, senior project evaluator with the Ministry of Environment’s renewable energy team, said the MOE had not yet received a letter from Chief Corbiere. “Once it’s received, the ministry will carefully review the chief’s request and respond accordingly,” Ms. Rudzki said.

“Generally speaking, public consultation is a significant part of the renewable energy application process,” the project evaluator continued. “Proponents must host public meetings and solicit feedback directly from interested parties during the application stage. All feedback must be documented as part of the application and proponents must advise the ministry on how they plan to address comments raised. Once the ministry receives a complete application, the ministry posts it for public review and comment.”

“We take all public comments submitted under careful advisement when reviewing applications and all comments are considered as part of our review,” Ms. Rudzki concluded.