THUNDER BAY -- Horizon Wind has withdrawn its appeal to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, effectively ending its decade-long pursuit of a wind farm on the Nor’Wester escarpment.
The company filed the appeal in July of 2014 after the Ontario Power Authority terminated its Feed-In-Tariff contract, citing a lack of progress on the proposed 32-megawatt wind turbine farm.
Horizon had been fighting a Fort William First Nation court injunction over land rights and the company had to drop a $126-million lawsuit it filed against the City of Thunder Bay over the project’s location.
It was also facing outspoken opposition from Thunder Bay-Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro and a grassroots mobilization of neighbours and conservationists.
Nor’Wester Escarpment Protection Committee president John Beals estimates his group has spent $150,000 and countless volunteer hours to oppose the wind farm.
“Fort William First Nation has done the lion’s share of the work with their concerns and we’re proud to take our hat off to them and say, ‘job well done,'" Beals said.
“Their rights are being acknowledged today.”
Beals urged Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation to work together toward a conservation authority to preserve the 20,000-acre Loch Lomand watershed. He said his group would be eager to “do the Jiminy Cricket style of help” if that was to happen.
He added he’s urging the group’s supporters to hold their celebration until the city declares the project dead.
“They’re wondering when we’re going to crack out the champagne and it’s not until the City of Thunder Bay finally says to Horizon, ‘your lease is cancelled,’” he said.
“We want to hear that loud and clear as a community and then we’re all prepared to sit down and have a proper discussion on what that watershed should be.”