Plympton-Wyoming will be getting some moral support as it begins the first phase of a court battle with Suncor Energy Feb. 26.
Last year around this time, facing a 42-turbine project which, in part, is in Plympton-Wyoming, town council passed a bylaw under the Municipal Act to “protect the health of our people,” according to Mayor Lonny Napper.
The bylaw called for turbines to be two kilometers away from homes instead of 550 meters mandated by the Green Energy Act – the provincial legislation which over-rides any local planning. Plympton-Wyoming also placed large fees on each turbine for decommissioning.
The municipality was served notice of a court challenge by Suncor. Plympton-Wyoming vowed to fight the move, hiring lawyer Eric Gillespie who is known for his work with anti-wind activists.
Now a court date has been set for the initial statements in the dispute.
Suncor Spokesperson Nicole Fisher says tried to resolve the concerns through negotiations “We are always looking for ways to work with the community to resolve our concerns with the bylaws,” says Fisher. But now, she says, Suncor is looking for “direction” from the courts.
“We’ve taken what we believe to be a rare step for our company to challenge the bylaw,” says Fisher. “In this instance, we believe the bylaw put in place by the municipality is in conflict with provincial laws and we need clarification from the court.
“There are pieces (of the approval process) that are still happening but at some point we will reach a point where we need that clarification.”
“We can’t proceed because those two sets of laws seem to be in conflict.”
And while the arguments unfold in court, members of WAIT – We’re Against Industrial Turbines – will be outside, according to spokesperson Ingrid Willemsen.
“This is about democracy, the rights of the people versus big energy,” she says. “David and Goliath is over used and bullied is over used but facts are facts, people could be harmed. It shouldn’t be our responsibility to find out.”
Willemsen says WAIT wants to support Plympton-Wyoming council “who know what’s best for us.
“We don’t think (the bylaws) are overly invasive; we think that they are fair asks.”