Northland Power responds to construction criticisms

LITTLE CURRENT—In a recent open letter from the Manitoulin Coalition for Safe Energy Alternatives (MCSEA), the group claims that HB White, the construction company working on Northland Power’s McLean’s Mountain Wind Farm (MMWF) has been damaging the Northeast Town’s roads and environment.

“It appears the normal practice is to do whatever until someone finds out and gets reported by those affected,” MCSEA spokesperson Ray Beaudry claims in his letter. “Water flows west of the 20th concession where Construction vehicles create silt and are driving through large areas of excavation in the road allowance but no containment was observed at several of the water outflows. The previous culvert that was placed there along the snow machine trail has been removed for several weeks and the new culvert is yet to be installed. This area drains to West Bay on the North Channel.”

“Other impacted properties for silted water flows are on the 20th Concession,” continues Mr. Beaudry. “The construction activities and poor road conditions along the 20th Concession are making it difficult for landowners to access their properties. High centres that could cause breaking of trailer axles, deep ruts, boulders and rocks left on travelled portions, very deep waterholes and high banks, concerns for private vehicle damage and also when freeze-up occurs, water containment, rerouting of spring fed water onto the road allowance, future ice damage to vehicle undercarriage, property access for the traditional annual November Manitoulin deer rifle hunt while construction activities are likely to continue.”

“The MMWF project has a Road Use Agreement (RUA) in place with the Town of NEMI (the Northeast Town), and as a condition of the RUA, the project is responsible to return the roadways to equal or better condition than was found at the start of construction,” Sarah Charuk, director of communications for Northland Power, told The Expositor, responding to Mr. Beaudry’s claims. “This applies to travelled roads, as well as to the unopened road allowances. It is understood that during construction, some inconvenience may be experienced while oversized construction vehicles travel these roadways—we will do our best to minimize the inconvenience and we apologize for any delays experienced.”

“It is also understood that the oversized vehicles/increased construction traffic can have a negative impact on the road surface condition, which is why the RUA stipulates that the project will repair the damages and restore the roads to their original or better condition,” continued Ms. Charuk. “As a result of the substantial rains recently, the road surfaces are softer and do need more frequent attention to keep them in suitable condition. MMWF will continue to work with the Town of NEMI to ensure the condition of the road ways meet the town’s standards.”

“As the autumn rains have been heavy and persistent, we do agree the amount of water across the entire plateau area presents a challenge to the project,” concluded Ms. Charuk. “On a daily basis, the project is making adjustments to the surface water flow paths to assist in dewatering. These alterations are made in consultation with the environmental monitors to ensure the receiving areas are not impacted by the inrush of the drained waters. HB White is advancing construction as quickly as possible, such that any inconvenience to the public caused by the trenching and excavation work is minimized.  We again apologize for any inconvenience that is experienced.”

Robin Burridge