Local MPP Randy Pettapiece wants to hold Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to statements indicating the government plans to give municipalities more say in the siting of wind turbines and other green energy projects. He’s also asking her to stop the Conestogo Wind Energy Project in North Perth. Pettapeice hand delivered a letter on the subject to Wynne on March 5, and reiterated his position in a March 7 statement in the Ontario legislature.
“The government now claims it wants to listen to municipalities when it comes to energy projects,” the Conservative MPP explained. “In the Throne Speech, we were told that we benefit ‘only if we have willing hosts.’ Well, I’m here to tell the McGuinty-Wynne Liberals that we are surely not willing hosts.”
Pettapiece’ comments reference a section of the Feb. 19 throne speech which states, “They must have a voice in their future and a say in their integrated, regional development. So that local populations are involved from the beginning if there is going to be a gas plant or a casino or a wind plant or a quarry in their hometown. Because our economy can benefit from these things but only if we have willing hosts.”
Mapleton Township Mayor Bruce Whale says the new premier also raised the topic during a session at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference in February.
At the March 5 Mapleton council meeting, Whale said Wynne’s comments at ROMA indicated, “it was certainly understood there is a need for local involvement.”
Pettapiece said he delivered the premier a copy of the Conestogo project’s municipal consultation form, submitted by the Municipality of North Perth. The package, included a letter from North Perth Mayor Julie Behrns and pages of information alleging serious problems and faulty assumptions with the industrial wind farm proposal.
In his statement, Pettapiece demanded the premier use her power to stop the project.
“By now I hope the premier (has) read the mayor’s letter and my letter supporting the people of North Perth,” he said. “Given such overwhelming opposition to this wind farm, I am again asking her to do the right thing. I’m asking her to stop this proposal from going any further.”
Pettapiece suggested that if the government won’t halt the project immediately, it should at least provide another 90-day review period after Invenergy, the company proposing the wind farm, tries to fill in the missing information required by North Perth.
Another Conservative MPP Jim Wilson is also pushing for more municipal input in such projects. On Feb. 25, the Simcoe-Grey MPP introduced a new bill entitled Restoring Planning Powers to Municipalities Act, 2013.
“One example of the urgency of this bill, is WPD Canada’s Fairview Wind Project that consists of eight turbines in Clearview Township on a flight path of the Collingwood Airport,” said Wilson. “Given the premier recently visited the area and has been briefed on the ridiculousness of putting industrial turbines as tall as the TD tower near an airport, I trust that the government will take the bill seriously and move to bring it into law.”
Wilson’s bill aims to amend the Planning Act, reversing previous amendments made by the Green Energy Act in 2009 that exempt renewable energy undertakings from the municipal process.
“I’m not backing away from green, renewable energy,” stated Wynne during a Jan. 20 visit to Collingwood. “But… (the government) did not bring the community in on the buy-in. We need to move to a willing-host model and we need more municipal autonomy on decision making.”
Since 2010, The Ontario PC Party have been calling for a moratorium on industrial wind energy projects until third party health and environmental studies have been done. They have also committed to scrapping the feed-in tariff program which subsidizes some forms of green energy production.
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