Council seeks confirmation provincial legislation won’t affect White Pines road use agreement

(Gazette file photo)




Having previously supported a motion backing the province’s intention to cancel the wpd White Pines Wind Project at the committee level, councillors want assurances the County’s interests will be protected now that more is known about the legislation.

On Tuesday councillors modified the motion, previously supported at their July 12 committee-of-the-whole meeting, to read that council supports the provincial government in bringing forward legislation which would cancel White Pines provided the interests of Prince Edward County are protected. The legislation passed its second reading on Tuesday.

The motion came after councillor Bill Roberts pulled the motion supported at committee for discussion. Roberts explained he pulled the motion because it appeared the legislation tabled at Queen’s Park on July 16 could nullify the County’s road use agreement for the White Pine project. Engineering, development and works commissioner Robert McAuley, as well as County legal counsel Wayne Fairbrother, expressed concern sections of the bill as presented “could wipe out our road use agreement and our ability to make wpd do any road restoration, as well as our security that we now hold with wpd,” Roberts said.

“We’ve asked, through commissioner McAuley and through our MPP Minister Todd Smith, for amendments to the bill — including at least three things: one, clearer language protecting our road use agreement and security, secondly assurances that Prince Edward County ratepayers are not going to be on the hook for costs of wpd infrastructure removal, and third the same kind of indemnification the province have given itself. We’ve asked that Prince Edward County be protected from retaliatory legislation by wpd if that comes to pass.”

McAuley said the municipality received a reply from MPP Smith’s office on Tuesday afternoon indicating they would be in contact with the County when the time is appropriate to discuss the concerns.

“We’ve expressed some concerns more for clarification purposes, not to rebut the intent of the bill, but to make sure it’s not ambiguous where we want out interests protected,” McAuley said.

Councillor Steve Ferguson, who put forward the motion at the committee meeting, said he supported the changes.

“When the legislation was tabled, I sent out an email saying it could possibly affect our road use agreement,” he said.

He agreed there is ambiguity in the language of the bill and said he has sought confirmation on a definitive answer several times.

“Not having that answer forthcoming is disarming,” he said.

He said it made sense to qualify council’s support of the legislation given those outstanding questions.