Robert Whiteside operated a generating station under a lease signed in 1985
A small hydro-electric generating station on the Current River, below the Boulevard Lake dam, no longer produces power.
The City of Thunder Bay and Robert Whiteside, the operator of the hydro plant, quietly reached an agreement in March of this year to terminate a 40-year lease for city property.
The lease wasn’t set to expire until 2025.
According to information released this week by Ontario’s Environmental Review Tribunal, the city notified the tribunal that it struck a deal with Whiteside’s Current River Hydro Partnership to terminate the lease and stop the operation of the hydro plant.
It’s not clear whether the agreement provided for any restitution to Whiteside
City Manager Norm Gale told Tbnewswatch the lands and premises he operated on have been surrendered to the city. “This was a resolution based on mutual agreement…I cannot provide any further particulars…including any amount of reimbursement,” Gale said in an email.
The early termination of the lease was negotiated in the midst of hearings by the ERT into the city’s appeal of some of the terms of a new Permit To Take Water (from the Current River) which it received from the provincial environment ministry last year.
The city had also objected that the permit, in its view, improperly made it responsible for the control of Whiteside’s power plant, and liable for the actions of the operator.
The background to the city’s concerns dated back to 2010, when the ministry charged it with offences under the Ontario Water Resources Act after reduced water flows through the dam jeopardized the spring smelt run and left some fish stranded out of water.
At a hearing last August, the ERT noted that “Over the last few years, the relationship between the City and Mr. Whiteside has deteriorated.
With the generating station no longer operating, the city’s permit to take water will be amended to remove any references to hydro-electric generation, making it clear that water from the Current River is only to be used for recreational and conservation purposes, including storage of water in Boulevard Lake.
The loss of the Current River power source will not likely result in any brownouts or blackouts
It’s believed that the generating station, which fed the Independent Electricity System Operator’s provincial grid provided only a few hundred kilowatts of power.
It did not operate year-round.
By comparison, Synergy North (formerly Thunder Bay Hydro) generates a peak of 3000 kilowatts from its generating facility at the Mapleward Road landfill site which uses methane as a power source.