If the Progressive Conservatives are returned to power following next year’s provincial election, party leader Tim Hudak pledges to restore municipal planning powers for renewable energy projects.
“Any government I lead will empower local decision making,” he said at an Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference in Windsor on Tuesday (Aug. 17). “You voters put their faith in you to make the best decisions for your local communities.”
The Green Energy Act, which came into force last year, removed all municipal planning authority regarding renewable energy projects, funneling all approvals through the province. Municipalities remain a commenting agency on project proposals.
Town and township councils throughout the province have decried the loss of planning authority, particularly in the face of concerns about the effect of wind turbines on human health. Provincial and industry officials contend there is no scientific basis for such concerns, but calls persist for a moratorium on projects until a thorough study is completed.
During the AMO conference, Hudak announced his support for a private member’s bill introduced by fellow PC Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones back in April. Like Hudak’s pledge, the bill seeks to return planning authority for renewable energy projects to municipalities.
“Municipalities know what works best for them,” Jones said in a news release issued yesterday (Aug. 18). “The planning process is not new. Municipal planning has worked well in the past, and if given the opportunity, can work well in the future.
“The voice of our communities and concerned Ontarians should not be shut down.”