By Michael-Allan Marion Brantford Expositor
City councillors are chastising the Ontario government for passing a Green Energy Act with clauses that take away from municipalities the ability to decide whether to allow certain energy facilities or where to locate them.
“Municipal governments are being left out of the decision- making process, and the very fact that we’re excluded is inappropriate,” Coun. Marguerite Ceschi-Smith told city councillors this week.
She got 10-1 support on a resolution imploring the Dalton McGuinty government to give municipalities a chance to review green energy initiatives before they are imposed. Council will consider final approval of the resolution in two weeks.Ceschi-Smith’s resolution noted that the ministers of the Environment and Energy and Infrastructure have been implementing the act passed a year ago without talking to municipalities.
She said the government “simply ignored” Thunder Bay city council’s concerns about the placement of wind turbines, despite a public outcry which was amplified by local politicians.
“It isn’t until it smacks you right in the face that you realize how it will affect you,” she said of the act’s provisions.
“We might have some things foisted on us here that we may not want to be part of.”
The province passed the act a year ago to clear the way for investment in alternative energy producing facilities, such as wind turbines, solar panels and waste-to-energy technologies beyond the normal sources that supply the power grid.
Coun. Richard Carpenter said he is concerned about how the province could use the powers it has given itself. For example, he noted that Brant County has bought 187 acres of land for $7 million on Rest Acres Road to use in partnership with Six Nations as part of its green energy accord.
If the province wanted to put an incinerator plant there, “it could just say, ‘Done, it’s going there.’ And the city and the county wouldn’t be able to say a thing about it,” said Carpenter.
Coun. James Calnan was the sole dissenter.
“I think we’re sending the wrong message,” he said. “It’s not suggesting that we’re supportive of green industry.”
He said he detects a fracture in the green movement caused by some environmentalists wanting to shun technologies that don’t meet their “purist” standards.
Those words angered Carpenter.
“How can any councillor not care that the province is taking away our say? I can’t imagine any member not opposing that,” he said. “Unbelievable.”
Coun. Dan McCreary supported the resolution but stressed that it is important to distinguish between the government’s Green Energy Act and the local Green Energy Hub being pursued by the county, business interests and the Chamber of Commerce Brantford-Brant.