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First Nation files judicial review against Ontario ministries in response to wind project

Fort William First Nation wants work on a proposed wind farm to stop until the community has been consulted.

Fort William First Nation wants work on a proposed wind farm to stop until the community has been consulted.

The community filed for a judicial review Monday against the Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing saying that the province has the sole responsibility to consult with Fort William First Nation over the Big Thunder Wind Park and failed to do so when Horizon Wind's Renewable Energy Approval was accepted last year.

It also alleges that the province failed to make sure that Horizon obtained legal land tenure before deeming the application complete.

It's asking that Horizon stop all work on the project.

"Until the Respondent (province) has satisfied its Constitutional obligations of Consultation and Protection of Treaty and Aboriginal Rights to the Applicant (Fort William First Nation," the documents state.

But according to a letter sent to Fort William First Nation's lawyer Chantelle Bryson in February, the MOE says consultation has already already happened through meetings with the community by both the ministry and Horizon.

"As such we cannot agree that consultation with Fort William First Nation has never happened or that it is only now commencing," environmental approvals branch manager Ian Parrott states.

Parrot also says that the ministry has heard many times that the community has concerns over the land lease agreement Horizon has with the city of Thunder Bay, but has never been given any specific information on how the deal impacts past, present and future uses of the land and how it impacts treaty rights.

"Based on what we have heard over the last several years, we don't understand what rights impacts FWFN fears, and how they might be addressed within the scope of this REA application," it says.

Horizon community and public affairs director Kathleen MacKenzie said the 16-turbine project is in its technical review phase and that the company feels it has carried out its obligation to consult. There's currently no work being done on the site.


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