Municipalities won’t have veto powers over the locations of new industrial wind farms, Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said Wednesday.
“The bottom line is it will be very difficult for an energy proponent to be successful in the type of (request for proposals) that’s being created, without a significant municipal engagement,” Chiarelli said.
However, local politicians can’t block a wind farm from coming into the city.
“We said that very, very clearly. There is no veto because there are circumstances in the energy planning of Ontario where a veto might be totally unadvisable, but the general thrust is that there must be an engagement with the local municipality,” Chiarelli said.
Chiarelli, the MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean, said the Ontario Power Authority is consultating on the “significant engagement that municipalities will have in renewable energy siting projects.”
Rideau-Goulbourn Coun. Scott Moffatt presented a motion at Wednesday’s council meeting that asks the province to include the city in any process of siting a new wind farm. Moffatt’s motion was approved by council. He said his community just wants a role to play in the debate.
Chiarelli said he met with Moffatt on Tuesday and explained to him that’s what the province has been doing.
One company, Prowind, has been eyeing Rideau-Goulbourn for a new wind farm for years.
Residents opposing wind farms argue the turbines sully the landscapes and bring health and psychological impacts.
The group Ottawa Wind Concerns has sent an 1,100-name petition to City Hall asking for council to declare the city an unwilling host for wind turbines.
Chiarelli’s main reason for being at Ottawa City Hall was to announce the Ontario Energy Board will hold public consultations on the proposed Energy East Pipeline, which would cut through south Ottawa.
The pipe would carry 1.1-million barrels per day from Alberta to Quebec and New Brunswick.
Energy East needs federal regulatory approval, but Chiarelli said the province will weigh in.
The province won’t propose additional regulatory oversight, Chiarelli said, but it wants to make sure the project has emergency planning, environmental protection, an engagement strategy with Aboroginal communities and municipalities, and an economic benefit to Ontario.
Gillian McEachern with Environmental Defence welcomes the consultations.
“I think this is the right process to hear from people across the province,” McEachern said. “It’s a good way to get the ball rolling.”
Environmental Defence is concerned about the risk of oil spills and the effect the project could have on climate change, McEachern said.
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