They may not be as high profile as panda bears, tigers, or rhinos, but the Blanding’s Turtle and whippoorwill (a type of bird) are both endangered species just the same. But a new wind power project being proposed for Ontario’s shores further threatens the turtles’ and birds’ survival.
The proposed wind power project
Gilead Power is a Toronto-based wind power provider who is looking to embrace Ontario’s great Green Energy program that provides significant financial incentives to clean energy providers (the same program being threatened by Tim Hudak and the Progressive Conservatives). Although in most cases, an alternative energy project such as the one being proposed by Gilead would be welcomed, the shoreline that Gilead wants to build on is causing a problem.
The wind project, tentatively called the Ostrander Point Wind Energy Park, would be located in the Township of South Marysburgh, Prince Edward County on the shores of Lake Ontario. The 9-turbine, 22.5 MW project would consume 324 hectares of land currently owned by the Crown, and produce enough electricity for 6,000 homes. Sounds great, right?
The threat to endangered species
Gilead’s permit application doesn’t tip-toe around the fact that the endangered Blanding’s turtle and whippoorwill will suffer. In fact, the permit’s exact phrasing is asking “to allow Gilead Power Corporation to kill, harm and harass Blanding’s Turtle and Whip-poor-will as well as damage and destroy the habitat of Whip-poor-will for the purpose of the development and operation of Ostrander Point Wind Energy Park”.
In its own defense, Gilead is saying they will do their best to avoid harming the animals, and plan to create nesting habitats for them, but there is only so much that can be done. Because of Ontario’s current push for clean energy, it is likely that this permit application will be approved and the endangered species will be overlooked by most.
For those interested, here is the Ontario Endangered Species Act, updated in 2007.
Who’s right and who’s wrong?
This is a difficult situation to choose sides on. Everyone’s intentions are in the right place, and while we all want to protect endangered species, it is inevitable that land is going to be used in one way or another eventually. Regardless, the decision is now up to Ontario’s Natural Resources Minister, Linda Jeffrey.
Let us know what you think the Ontario government should do in the replies.