Government approves waiving Planning Act for “peaker” plant

“The whole process is just very, very disrespectful to people.”

By Bill Rea   The King Sentinal

Happy people in King were a little hard to find after Thursday’s announcement that the provincial government has okayed the plan to exempt the peaker plant planned for the Holland Marsh area from the provisions of the Planning Act.

This came one week after the Green Party of Ontario, Concerned Citizens of King Township (CCKT) and others announced they were starting a legal action aimed at getting the Province to follow its own rules with regard to the plant, which is to be built by York Energy Centre (Pristine Power).

Mayor Margaret Black said she and the Township found out about the latest development, but not directly. She said the Township’s lawyer heard about it from the proponent of the project.

“There was no formal notice to me or the municipality,” she said.

In its announcement, the government maintained its addressing York Region’s energy needs, as well as supporting a reliable energy supply and creating jobs.

“York Energy Centre is on track to provide a reliable energy supply for York Region with a target for commercial operation by the end of 2011,” said the statement issued by the Province, adding the government had “approved a regulation that streamlines land use planning approvals by exempting the facility from the Planning Act. This exemption is needed to allow the development of new, clean-burning natural gasgenerated electricity in an area of rapid growth.

“Supply in York Region is insufficient to meet the energy needs of a region where demand has been forecast to grow by three times the provincial average,” the statement added.

“The province is moving forward to ensure that York Region gets a reliable source of clean power in a timely manner,” commented Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Jim Bradley. “This will help meet the region’s needs and support economic growth.”

“The McGuinty government has a responsibility to ensure a reliable energy supply that Ontario families and businesses can count on. The York Energy Centre will provide new, clean, generation of on-demand power to this rapidly growing region,” added Energy and Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid. “It is an essential investment that will complement our supply of clean renewable power and nuclear generation, as we transition off dirty, coal-fired generation.”

The proposal for the regulation was posted on the Environmental Registry for public review and comment for 45 days, earlier this year. more than 140 comments were received.

Debbie Schaefer of CCKT said she was “very, very disappointed” with the news.

“I think it just shows a lack of respect for the people who sent in the comments,” she declared, adding there’s been no response to the comments offered by CCKT. “I think it really shows it was a show. They really weren’t interested in what the public had to say.”

“The whole process is just very, very disrespectful to people,” she added.

Schaefer said she hopes the judicial process that was started recently will continue, now with more significance.

She also cited comments that there is urgent need for this facility, but she charged the government refuses to provide data to back that up. “We keep saying the data is not there,” she remarked.

The Township received a copy of the regulation Friday afternoon. Black stated “it exempts the proponent from all planning approvals required under the Planning Act including interim control bylaw, and site plan.”

“I’m extremely disappointed, of course,” she remarked.

Town CAO Scott Somerville said it’s not clear what the next step is for the municipality. The Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) is scheduled to hold a hearing on the interim control bylaw the Township passed on this issue, and there was a prehearing conference planned for yesterday (Tuesday). He was hoping there would be some answers coming out of that session.

7 thoughts on “Government approves waiving Planning Act for “peaker” plant

  1. Ontario as a whole needs to turn on McGuinty and his “fascists” tactics of dismantling Citizens Rights every time he gets any opposition to his “failed agenda”. Natural Gas Generation is anything but clean.

    It pollutes the air much worse than a state of the art coal generation system with the proper scrubber systems in place!

    Does the words “Tax Revolt” come to mind here?

  2. Quixote:

    I think that there has ever only been one successful Tax Revolt in Canada. Calgary around 1982/83. I am familiar with why it worked there and the methodology.

    Perhaps we will get a chance to discuss it some day.

    Best wishes on all your endeavors!

  3. Just a further note here…

    a) Why is the peaker plant needed? b) Is it being constructed in a particularly sensitive environmental area?

    Is it needed because wind turbines are not effective producers of power? Is it needed because wind turbines simply don’t work in the required manner? Hmmmm?

  4. Jon Boone’s excellent review of Robert Bryce’s book, POWER HUNGRY,

    describes the necessary integration of gas plants with Industrial Wind (much of the original work done by retired Ontario engineer, Kent Hawkins).

    Hawkins work shows, “Any fossil fuel saved when it is sporadically displaced by wind is often consumed in even greater volume as it is called upon to compensate for wind’s relentless skittering.”

    Later in the same review, Boone makes the following insightful observation, in summing up the role of Industrial Wind;

    “In many ways, wind resembles the character Major Major Major Major, made so indelible by Joseph Heller in his immortal Catch-22. Like wind, even when the Major was in, he was out. Even more apropos is the connection with Major Major’s father, a Calvinist alfalfa farmer who received a public subsidy for every acre of crop he did not grow, using the money to buy more land on which not to grow alfalfa. He thought such practice was divinely ordained, proclaiming, “You reap what you sow,” while maintaining that federal aid to anyone but farmers was “creeping socialism.” With only a few word changes, this is the line trumpeted by the American Wind Energy Association on behalf of its limited liability companies.

    Spawned, then supported, by government welfare measures at considerable public expense, wind produces no meaningful product or service yet provides enormous profit to a few wealthy investors, primarily multinational energy companies in search of increased bottom lines through tax avoidance. Wind does reap what it sows, masquerading as a power source to hide its real identity as an Enronesque tax shelter generator.”

  5. David Robinson, the peaker plant, as I understand it, is needed because of the huge growth in Aurora, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, etc.
    Both this plant and the plant now slated for Oakville are part of the Jan Carr era planning from the OPA (before it was strictly a political body) – both cited the need for local generation and/or increasing the transmission capacity into the areas.

    In other words, growth without planning followed by looking for the closest piece of rural land to seize to service the urban population.
    Wind always needs more natural gas – if its gas, they’ll support it – especially if it involves removing the rights of rural areas.

  6. Scott:

    Sounds like the plant should be in Aurora — perhaps close to City Hall — they are small unobtrusive and quiet — just like a politician. They can paint murals on the wall and make it a tourist attraction.

    Maybe we should have one built in Oakville too! I understand that Oakvillians like their power for their morning coffee.

    Just think of the savings on transmission lines and the increased reliability. This should be an easy sell… no station, no morning coffee. Save more of the Holland Marsh then you can make toast for your BLT with local power and locally grown L&T.

    Sound like a plan?

  7. Yes, I think McGuinty’s heavy-handedness re the peaker plant has everything to do with the rapid growth caused in part by the Places to Grow Act. That Act was supposed to encourage urban intensification and limit sprawl, but it really seemed to act as a catalyst for rapid development. Now York Region is borrowing billions (7.5 billion over the next 10 years) to build new infrastructure. The Liberals will do what they can to ensure the success of York Region’s gamble. One question: could the gas pipeline running from Schomberg to the plant be used to supply natural gas to future developments along the route?

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