by Jonathan Jenkins, London Free Press
Just say no. Cities and towns opposed to gas power plants or wind farms won’t have to put up with them under a Tory government, says Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak. “I’m going to restore local decision making on these industrial wind farms,” Hudak said, standing in front of what is now a stalled gas plant construction site in Mississauga, near Sherway Gardens.
“Communities like West Lincoln and Haldimand down in southwestern Ontario, they can decide where to put a hot dog stand. They can decide where a Tim
Hortons can be, surely they should have their say on these industrial wind farms.”
The same goes for gas plants — two of which the governing Liberals have killed in less than two years.
Both projects — one in Oakville as well as the one in Mississauga — faced bitter local opposition.
Hudak said a PC government would put natural gas fired electrical generation into old coal-fired plants in Lambton and Nanticoke but would otherwise defer to municipalities.
“That makes a lot more sense than throwing projects into unwilling communities in Mississauga and Oakville,” Hudak said. “Our plan is to work with willing host communities to say what is the best site for these projects.”
Sunday’s commitment overrides a previous Tory pledge to honour any renewable energy contracts already signed under Liberals Green Energy Act, except for the 2,500 megawatt Samsung deal.
In the case of a conflict between a signed contract and a town opposed to wind power, a Tory government would find “some other way to honour the contract,” an official said.
In defending his decision to stop the Mississauga South plant mid-way through the election campaign, Premier Dalton McGuinty said there have been significant changes in the area since the Independent Electricity System Operator first proposed building a plant on that site, including the< addition of three condo towers.
“I think they’re going to think that they have a political party that listens to the community… that we’ve responded to a pretty compelling argument put forward by the folks living in that community,” McGuinty said.
The Liberals stopped the gas-fired Oakville plant last fall after strenuous community opposition.
Asked how much it will cost to move the two projects now, McGuinty said his government is in “conversations” to discuss how they can relocate the plants but he did not provide a figure.