by Randy Pettapiece, Stratford Gazette – Open letter to the Minister of the Environment
On December 8 your government issued a renewable energy approval to Conestogo Wind, LP (NextEra Canada) for its proposed 10-turbine wind energy project in the Township of Mapleton. Your ministry’s approval came without warning and without notice to my office. MPPs should be informed when projects – especially those of the magnitude of industrial wind farms – are approved in the ridings they represent. This is an entirely reasonable request. Communities affected by your government’s energy policies and their elected representatives deserve full disclosure from your government. We have yet to receive that.
The timing of your approval is similarly disappointing. Instead of releasing it while the legislature was in session, your government waited until the day that the legislature adjourned for the Christmas break. This is unacceptable, and suggests that your government is avoiding accountability on what you must know is an extremely contentious issue in our communities.
As you know, you have given municipalities and citizens only until December 23, two days before Christmas, to appeal your government’s decision on the Mapleton project. To the many people opposed to this project, your deadline is unreasonable and unworkable.
The financial costs of mounting an appeal are extraordinary. For these reasons, I ask you to order an immediate extension of the appeals period, which must extend well into the new year to provide fair and ample opportunity to all concerned.
In the Ontario legislature on December 1, I spoke about the need for your government to start treating its municipal partners with respect and recognizing the critical role in the planning process which is rightfully theirs. It would appear, however, that your government is doing just the opposite.
I have met with several constituents on this matter; many of them are extremely upset that your government does not appear to be listening to their concerns. I have also met with municipal officials who must contend with the consequences of your government’s wind energy policies.
Again, I’m asking you to order an immediate extension of the deadline to appeal your government’s decision. I look forward to your prompt and favourable response.