Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau
THUNDER BAY -- Whether there will ever be turbines on the Nor'Wester Mountains depends on who's asked.
A request by Horizon Wind Inc. for the Ministry of the Environment to make a final decision on the Big Thunder Wind Park was denied in a Toronto courtroom late last week. Company public affairs director Kathleen MacKenzie said the ruling just means that the ministry's process should continue.
"I think the court gave a pretty clear indication that it wasn't going to interfere at least at this point with the ministry of the environment's authority to manage the case," she said.
But another part of the ruling, that nation-to-nation consultation between the ministry and Fort William First Nation, is being seen as a victory by Chief Georjann Morriseau.
The community, which has filed for several injunctions against provincial ministries over failure to consult on the project, wants consultation before any approval is made.
"We've clearly asserted and we've clearly outlined our concerns," Morriseau said.
Along with treaty rights over consultation, the community is concerned about impacts to ceremonial grounds, hunting grounds, wildlife and the watershed over a 17,000 acre stretch of land. Meaningful consultation over those concerns, defined by Fort William First Nations members, has never taken place Morriseau said.
Government and industry have dismissed those concerns without considering the people who will be the most impacted by the wind park.
"We've always opposed this project," she said.
"There's a trust issue at that point."
A deadline for June 9 is set for consultations. But Fort William First Nation is back in court June 6 with a single judge over injunctions.
MacKenzie said the company is still eager to build the project and thinks people in the province are in favour of it. She views the decision as another hurdle but the turbines will be built one day.
"I think we've come so far and theres not that much further to go," she said.
Morriseau doesn't think so.
"I'd like to say no. I'd like to say no I don't see them going up on that mountain," she said.