Several factors contributed to Ontario’s rural-urban divide, but perhaps the greatest has been the Ontario Green Energy Act of 2009, which continues to exclusively target rural properties for wind turbines and, to a lesser extent, solar farms.
Since the legislation was rolled out five years ago, parts of rural Ontario have had its landscape altered and changed, probably for decades to come.
Yet what has contributed mostly to the ongoing rural-urban divide is people who live with wind turbines have had little to say about their development. They are almost all rural residents; those who live within urban centres have yet to be asked to be a neighbour to the towers.
That wouldn’t be a bad thing, except most rural residents didn’t have a choice. Unless they are the host landowner, they have never invited wind turbine development into their community.
Indeed, to ensure the legislation’s objectives were met, planning and approval for these developments have been given to a centralized bureaucracy. Local municipalities have little influence, although some have become hosts to hundreds of such wind turbines.
Desperate to establish some formal objection, municipalities have declared themselves unwilling hosts, although such a label gives little credit or clout within the Green Energy Act’s centralized authority. The act is perhaps one Ontario’s most undemocratic pieces of legislation ever.
There has been formal opposition to the legislation. Rural MPPs, mostly Tories, have been the loudest.
Most recently it has been MPP Lisa MacLeod, who Tuesday called on the Liberal government to restore to local municipalities planning authority they enjoy over most developments.
MacLeod notes the Green Energy Act overrides 21 bills, including the Heritage Act and Planning Act.
And, she correctly states, those individuals and corporations wanting to develop a wind farm should follow the same process other developers follow.
MacLeod is incorrect on one point. She calls the Green Energy Act a disaster. It’s not; it’s been the single most successful program issued by the former government of Dalton McGuinty.
If municipalities had been allowed to exercise their local authority, far fewer wind turbines would have been allowed.
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