Permitting Purgatory

Purgatory (Lat., “purgare”, to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment….

That’s where I am.

According to Catholic doctrine, purgatory is supposed to only last awhile.
I have been working on obtaining the final permits for the Ravenswood wind farm. And it goes on and on and on. The hard part is all done. Meetings have been held. The zoning is approved. OMB appeal periods are passed. The 130 page environmental assessment has had its final notice published. But what remains are niggly little things that just don’t seem to finish.

The site is located on Highway 21, a provincial highway. We received the entrance permits today from the Ministry of Transportation. That will allow us to expand entrance ways on both the north and south side of the road, to allow the turbines to turn into existing laneways. We still need an encroachment permit for the underground bore to pass the underground cable from one side of the road to the other. The drawing needed to show the existing ditch depth, and be signed by an engineer. Ok. They should get that tomorrow. The change of use permit for another laneway that will allow access to the substation is also needed. Of course, the substation will go for months at a time with nobody visiting. And the egg sales at the landowner’s farm will have dozens of vehicles daily. But a change of use permit is required. The Ministry of Transportation seems well engaged now, and the process of moving from purgatory to heaven is underway.

The third version of the site plan has been submitted to the Municipality. The titles needed to be changed. More CAD work. More time. The dust control plan had to be put on the drawing. More CAD work. The location of the above ground pole had to be put on the plan. More CAD work. The distances to all residences needed to be added. More CAD work. The substation drawing had been added to the site plan, as a separate drawing was insufficient. More CAD work. The issue of landscaping the substation in a cattle pasture has been addressed – the cows will not be feeding on petunias. The setback for a turbine from a lot line has been adjusted from 151 to 151.25 m, to adhere with zoning requirements. Holidays have been taken by officials. More time. An engineer has been hired by the municipality to review the plan. More time. Purgatory can’t last forever. Can it?

Still to come is a site plan agreement. And signatures of the landowners. And building permits. Hopefully no more changes will be requested on the site plan.

In Northern Bruce Peninsula, this took about 10 minutes. All that was required was a hand drawing of the site, and a drawing of the foundation stamped by an Ontario engineer. What a difference 200 kilometers makes.

The equipment is on order, and has delivery dates. Cranes and delivery trucks are in short supply. A small player needs to ready when the equipment is, not the other way around. The roads and entranceways need to be ready to take the trucks. And the foundations need to be dug and poured so they can cure. And of course all of this takes time. Contractors have been hired and given start dates. They have arranged their schedule around Ravenswood. Now they are delayed. But we need the site plan approved. We need MTO permits. We need building permits.

So what is a lost soul in purgatory to do?

I took a walk to White Bluff this evening after supper. A lost soul needs to see heaven. The ground was hard – we haven’t had rain of any consequence for about 6 weeks. Saplings in the woods have dead leaves. The grass and hay is all brown. But somehow the goldenrod and Queen Anne’s lace is doing fine.

From the top of white bluff you can look down on the birds and Georgian Bay. A cormorant took off from his tree roost and did a circle, then returned. A pair of terns flew by low over the water. Gulls swiftly flew above the bluff, floating effortlessly in the air without a single wing flap. A raven cawed nearby – it has to be a raven – it sounds so much more mature than a crow. In the distance, the Ferndale turbines were pointed due east. And the waves were crashing in on the shore. East winds are good on the Peninsula for wind production.

The thought of leaving the wind business occurs. Who needs it? I know I won’t, but the stress and frustration of the past 6 weeks is wearing. And so little of it is in your control. Friends of mine are going out west for a few weeks to be with their expected new born grandchild in October. I joked, “Do you needed a housesitter? Without permits, I might need to borrow a house.” It is all on the line.

When I got home from the walk, a large flock of crows was circling and making a ruckus behind the house over the bush. They will likely be my morning wake up call. Migration must be starting. They know winter is approaching. Why doesn’t officialdom?

Meanwhile, the Yucatan braces for hurricane Dean, recently upgraded to category 5, a monster storm. And Ontario’s climate changing coal plants are producing 4400 Megawatts – they have to – 4 of the 16 nuclear reactors in the province are out of order. At least there is 200 Megawatts of wind being produced tonight. That’s 200 less required from the coal plants.

Do hurricanes need permits? Does climate change? Just wondering….

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