It’s been almost five years since the Green Energy Act received approval at Queen’s Park, and yet the public debate over the content of that legislation continues to be a sore point, especially in rural Ontario where most of the legislation’s impact has been felt.
Planning and decision-making for the location of wind turbines has been legally centralized in Toronto since 2009, and so local municipalities and their locally-elected councillors have had little to no influence in deciding whether a wind turbine or solar farm ought to be located within their political jurisdiction.
It is rare in Ontario, and in other democratic jurisdictions, when the wishes of the electorate, through their public representatives, are ignored so profoundly. Indeed, approximately 80 municipalities in this province have declared themselves to be “unwilling hosts” for wind turbine developments – a collective protest against legislation that smacks more of the Soviet than the Canadian style in getting things done.
Lambton County council joined that chorus on Wednesday. And in declaring that Lambton County was an unwilling host to wind turbines, it joined with several lower-tier local municipalities that have done the same.
Most protests are born from frustration and from the collective anger of an individual or group who have been placed in a position of futility. Removing all but a token comment on wind turbine developments has left local councils in Lambton County and elsewhere in a municipal no-man’s land. All they have left is the “unwilling host” designation.
None of this will change until there is a change in government at Queen’s Park. The Liberal government in power is loath to tinker with the legislation it crafted and supported five years ago. Even as recently as January 2013, during the heat of the Liberal leadership race, Kathleen Wynne declared that her role as premier would be to better convince the people of Southwestern Ontario that wind turbines are good for us, and that Toronto knows best.
And Wynne has been as good as her word. She’s tried to convince rural Ontario, but we’re not buying what she’s selling.
It’s one thing to encourage green energy programs, but it’s quite another to force those program’s installations and developments on a community that, as the County of Lambton formally declared this week, is an unwilling host.
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