A demand that four Ontario families pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs to billion-dollar companies is a thinly disguised warning to anyone pondering a challenge to industrial wind farms in Ontario, the families say.
In asking the courts to set the legal bill aside, the citizens say the award would cripple them financially and undermine access to justice, even in important public-interest cases.
Court documents show the companies — K2 Wind, Armow, and St. Columban — are seeking $340,000 in costs from the Drennans, Ryans, Dixons and Kroeplins, who lost their bid to scuttle three wind-farm projects.
The families, who worry wind turbines near their homes could harm their health, had challenged the constitutionality of Ontario’s approvals process before Divisional Court. They are now hoping the province’s top court will hear the case, potentially adding more litigation costs.
Shawn Drennan said his $240,000 bill was excessive given that he was only looking to protect his rights.
“We will have to go to the bank and beg and ask if we can borrow more money to pay their costs and it will be a significant burden on my wife and I,” Shawn Drennan told The Canadian Press. “My wife already works two jobs.”
Lawyer Julian Falconer, who represents the families, called the wind companies “blood-sucking, intimidating bullies.”
“It’s not just a bar to justice, it’s actually a terror tactic,” Falconer said in an interview.
“This is not about money. The idea is to send a message: ‘We will wipe you out if you challenge us’.”