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CVADA will weigh in on wind farm EIS

Ron Laudadio is the chair of the CVADA. — Submitted photo

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

CODROY VALLEY — The Codroy Valley Area Development Association (CVADA) has been holding off on taking an official stance either for or against wind energy development in the region. Instead, said Chair Ron Laudadio, they are opting for open communication and information sharing with community members ahead of any final decision, and that process will continue despite the recent public release of World Energy GH2’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS that was submitted by World Energy GH2 on Tuesday, Aug. 22, was a comprehensive study that came in response to the 27 studies and plans that were listed as a requirement from the Department of Environment and Climate Change after the environmental assessment process was registered in June, 2022. Because the EIS contains a large amount of information, the CVADA wants to take the time necessary to ensure it reaches a well-informed final decision. “We are still following our process, which may have us take a position. The intention was to have a community meeting, and we did that months ago. We gathered a sentiment vote. We also gathered questions that the community needed answered. We collected all that and on their behalf, we went to World Energy GH2 and the provincial government and asked those formal questions. So we got answers from World Energy GH2 and we published them, and we got a response from Andrew Parsons’ office, and we published those as well,” said Laudadio. “What we were doing then was establishing ourselves for the next step when the EIS gets submitted. That way we can then gather another community sentiment and then run another vote and then help the community understand more about what’s going on with their own sentiment so they understand where their community stands. So where we are now is that we still remain neutral, but we will take a position after the next vote. We’ve also checked into the Bay St. George South ADA, and it has also remained neutral for the same reason, simply because it’s not our mandate as an ADA to represent the community as a government would.” The CVADA is well versed in what the listed benefits are for having wind development in the region, but there remain multiple factors to consider. “We recognize that there’s an opportunity in area development with the arrival of the wind turbines. So looking at opportunities, for example, local business, getting business off of the build and the construction, the maintenance, the opportunity for students to remain on the island and get a good career opportunity in education, that’s great, but at the same time, on the flip side, we’re very concerned about the consequence of the wind turbines coming in and imposing area decline and not development, given the fact that so many of our local residences are employed by tourism and the local outfitters and we’re very concerned with the impact that the wind turbines will have with that,” explained Laudadio. “So we see pros and cons for area development either way, and our intention is to maximize the pros and minimize the cons as much as possible, which is why we want to offer a comment to the government. So what we are going to do in the near future is, again, collect that vote from the community, and we’re also going to help them understand more about how they can themselves offer a comment to the government, because part of the bid process is to have a 50-day window that expires October 11.” Ensuring active participation by community residents so that their opinions are accurately recorded and submitted is crucial. “Given that GH2 has submitted their EIS, we want to encourage them (residents), and we’ll show them and tell them the ways in which they can communicate their sentiment, their comments, to the government after we’ve got the vote. What we will be doing, though, is submitting a comment package to the provincial government just to express the sentiment and the position of the CVADA,” said Laudadio. “So it’s just the board. We’re not going to represent the community because that’s not our place, and the government won’t recognize us as a representative government. So we will, however, represent the interests of the area development in the area of Codroy by submitting a package that’ll have a comment and we’ll use the data that we gather from the last vote and from the next vote that we’ll be running as well.” The CVADA has already begun delving into the extensive EIS, which is viewable online. “We’ve glanced through it. It’s a lot to read, a lot to absorb, but we’re working through it ourselves,” said Laudadio. ”I have to say that I really don’t have a comment about it at the moment simply because I really haven’t read through enough of the material. At first blush, though, there’s not a lot of big surprises. There’s definitely a lot of challenges that are going to be imposed on the environment and the community, and there’s a lot of concern there, and so that’s what we’re trying to dig into a little bit more as well, to assess the impact.” The challenges aren’t the only aspect that the CVADA is delving into. “The other thing that we’re focusing into is what are the opportunities that might be real for this area,” said Laudadio. “Because we’re wary about phrases such as local employment, because we know, because of the agreement that Andrew Furey signed recently, local means anyone from Halifax or New Brunswick, so when we’re reading through the document, we are quite wary about what it still represents, but we haven’t come to any conclusion and we haven’t got our point to a comment at the moment.” There are no current plans to hold another community meeting once the CVADA finishes reviewing the EIS in its entirety. “We had our community meeting a while ago. We will be gathering community sentiment by vote through our community representatives, which are the board members, because our board members are all selected by community. Anybody who wants to express their sentiment through a vote will consult their local board member, so we won’t be having a meeting,” said Laudadio. “It’ll be a public record. We’re going to submit it to the government. We checked with the government already, and they said that they would accept a package comment from CVADA, which is a great opportunity for us to just see if we actually had a voice, and we do. But really, we’re going to be expressing our comments as the CVADA board and not for presenting any group or members of the community.”

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