Hartland Municipal Council briefs

by | Jul 11, 2024

A South Knowlesville resident is asking for more public engagement on a JD Irving, Limited (JDI) wind farm project

Jean Arnold of the Knowlesville Art and Nature Centre made a presentation to the Hartland council during a committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday, June 25. Arnold, who lives on the hill adjacent to where the project will be completed, shared her concerns with the council and asked them to arrange a public meeting. 

Arnold told the council she first heard of the potential for an industrial wind farm in May after reading a news article. Arnold expressed frustration with not receiving a courtesy call from JDI despite living next to the site. Arnold said she contacted then-Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Mike Holland, Carleton-Victoria MLA Margaret Johnson, and Minister of Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Fisheries Margaret Johnson. She said the ministers told her they didn’t know about the project, but an environmental impact assessment would need to be done. 

In an email to River Valley Sun, Johnson said the development would take time and that she expects JDI to complete the required public consultation. 

“I have spoken to the company and they have told me that they plan to visit residents to discuss the project,” said Johnson. 

Arnold said that in doing her own research, she found that Hatch Consulting had partially completed an environmental impact assessment. She found two binders detailing the assessment at the Andrew & Laura McCain Library in Florenceville-Bristol. 

Arnold added that JDI representatives dropped off fliers about the project. Still, she wants the company to conduct a public consultation so residents can ask questions and “have their fears and anxieties” addressed. Arnold said she also wanted the Dr. Walter Chestnut Library in Hartland to be treated fairly and have the assessment available to the public there. 

Going over her concerns with wind farms, Arnold noted the potential for water pollution due to drilling for the windmills, noise from the windmills, and shadow flicking from the blades blocking the sun as they turn. 

Deputy Mayor Stewart Fairgrieve said he has a seasonal dwelling close to the property, and a JDI representative stopped by with a brochure. 

When Arnold asked Fairgrieve what questions he had, Fairgrieve said concerns he raised with the representative included noise, location, getting the windmills onto the property, and whether there is an agreement with NB Power. He said all of these questions were answered to his satisfaction. 

Councillor Mike Walton, who also serves as the town’s fire chief, said JDI gave local fire departments a presentation. 

Anne McInerney is vice president of communications for JDI. McInerney said an Environmental Impact Assessment was filed with the province and announced in a news release on April 22. That release can be found on the JDI website. She said the assessment process is ongoing. 

She added that First Nations were first notified of a potential wind farm project in August 2023, followed by written communication in March 2024. JDI later received a letter from the Department of Indigenous Affairs informing them that the project had yet to trigger the Crown’s Duty to Consult. 

McInerney confirmed that JDI representatives went door-to-door to inform the public of the project, visiting approximately 250 addresses near the site. 

The company also conducted Q&A sessions and presentations at Annual General Meetings for Quad NB and Snowmobile Motoniege NB. On May 22, a meeting was held for the Western Valley Regional Service Commission. 

McInerney said the public is welcome to ask questions, and anyone looking for information can contact info@jdirving.com or visit brightonwind.com. 

Hartland Chief Administrative Officer Rob Webber said he wanted to point out there isn’t an energy source on earth that doesn’t have downsides to go along with upsides. 

“As long as people want to turn on their lights, leave their homes and drive vehicles, we are going to have to make hard choices about which ones we pick,” said Webber. 

Coun. Jason Smith shared his concern about the long-term environmental impact of the wind farm. 

“When you remove 90,000 hectares of forest ground that is in the watershed it dries up the small lakes and streams and causes a lack of biodiversity that we need within our environment,” said Smith. “This is a huge impact.” 

In asking the town to host a public meeting, Arnold said she would like to see representatives from NB Power, the Department of Natural Resources and Energy, the Skedaddle Ridge ATV Club, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, local First Nations leaders, and maple syrup producers. 

Webber told the River Valley Sun that the town might consider a general review of wind farms with other Atlantic Canada towns or possibly nearby Mars Hill, Maine, which has experience with windmills. 

Council optimistic after discussing rejected police force proposal with minister 

Hartland Mayor Tracey DeMerchant detailed a meeting with Minister of Justice and Public Safety Kris Austin to discuss the town’s rejected proposal for a community police force. 

The mayor called it a positive meeting, noting Austin indicated “the proposal that was put forward was very well done.” 

“[The province] said until they did their work they really couldn’t give us the stamp of approval to move forward. It was really positive. We went in feeling that same positive energy and left feeling the same way.” 

Coun. Walton also attended the meeting, and he said Austin indicated it could be 2025 into 2026 before a decision is made. 

“It wasn’t that they were turning anybody down, but they had to do their homework first on their behalf,” said Walton. 

Webber told the River Valley Sun the town was told it had a strong proposal, but the province is currently working on its contract with the RCMP. 

“At this time the province is not in a position to authorize us to move forward,” he said.  

“There are things they are still working out with the RCMP, for example how they are funding specialized services through the province. I think they are looking at a new model… because there are these outstanding issues with the RCMP.” 

Town puts hold on naming waterfront park 

Webber asked the council for thoughts on naming the waterfront pavilion park and holding a ceremony coinciding with the town’s Saturday market. 

The CAO said funding for the waterfront park will likely not happen until 2025 due to various factors, including getting approval from NB Power. These include deciding on raising public donations and tying the park’s name to a donation. 

He said that with the growing Saturday market, the town could schedule an opening with a concert later in the summer or during the annual bridge festival. 

Coun. Lee Patterson said he believed it’s too early to name the park, when it’s not yet known what the park’s purpose will be. 

“Yesterday, the gazebo was being used for the market, which is wonderful, but will the park have a playground? Will the park have a garden? Will the park have games? Will it have seating? 

He expressed reluctance to move ahead until a design is in place and suggested waiting until matters are settled with NB Power over the use of the property. 

Patterson suggested referring to the park as “the downtown park” until it is time to be named. 

John Nigro, Hartland’s Director of Facilities and Operations, said he would like a name or address to make sure area residents understand. He said the civic address is 333 Main Street. Nigro agreed there should be a concrete plan. 

For now, Patterson wasn’t opposed to having a sign with the civic address. Hartland’s Communications and Development Specialist, Michelle Derrah, said that with logo guidelines completed, the next step is welcome and wayfinding signs. 

“There’s no reason there couldn’t be a blue civic number and 333 [on the signage],” said Derrah. 

FOREST FIRE INDEX – click image for current status

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