By Karen Howlett, Globe and Mail
Location for plant criticized for being too close to neighbouring homes and schools
The McGuinty government is pulling the plug on a controversial power plant planned for Oakville, following stiff opposition from local residents who complained it would be too close to neighbouring homes and a school, sources say.
Energy Minister Brad Duguid will announce the sudden policy reversal at a news conference on Thursday afternoon in Oakville. According to sources in the energy sector, Mr. Duguid will essentially say that “the world has changed” since the plant was initially proposed and that the province can meet local electricity needs through other measures, including new transmission lines.
But critics say the motivation for the change is next year’s provincial election. Mr. Duguid will be flanked by Kevin Flynn, the Liberal MPP for the riding of Oakville who has been trying to persuade the government not to go ahead with the plant.
“I don’t agree with the Oakville power plant, but it seems pretty clear that the decision they are making is not based on the analysis they’ve been pushing for ages,” New Democratic Party energy critic Peter Tabuns told reporters on Thursday. “I think they see themselves in trouble in Oakville.”
In backing off the plan, the government is effectively overruling its own planning agency, the Ontario Power Authority, which considered several locations in the southwestern part of the Greater Toronto Area before settling on Oakville.
But residents of Oakville have mounted a sustained communications campaign against the proposed plant.