“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.