By Gord Young, North Bay Nugget
City politicians complained Monday about new environmental legislation which takes away from municipalities a say in where renewable energy projects are permitted.
I’m genuinely incensed,” said Mayor Vic Fedeli, referring to the loss of authority over planning approvals for renewable energy projects under the Green Energy Act.
Council was presented a report published in a national municipal magazine in January outlining the implications of the legislation, adopted by Queens Park in May, 2009.
The report says municipalities have lost all powers to block, alter or control energy generation projects within their borders under changes aimed at streamlining the approval process.
Council heard from staff that proponents of such projects no longer have to come to the municipalities for zoning approvals under the planning process. Instead, applications for such projects go directly to the province, although some consultation with municipalities and neighbours is required.
Council also heard residents have lost the right to appeal a planning decision regarding a renewable energy project to the Ontario Municipal Board. Instead, residents can take their objections to the Environmental Review Tribunal, but only on grounds the project will cause serious harm to human health or serious irreversible harm to plants, animals or environment.
I think this is horribly wrong,” said Coun. Judy Koziol, suggesting the city could end up with developments it doesn’t want.
Council raised similar concerns in April 2009 shortly before a visit to North Bay from then Energy and Infrastructure Minister George Smitherman.
Asked about the concerns, Smitherman suggested municipalities will ultimately see their fears are unfounded.
This is a piece of legislation that our government is advancing that will make it easier to bring more renewable energy to life in the province of Ontario,” he said.