"The McGuinty Government recently introduced a piece of legislation"
January 10, 2006 The Editor Courier-Herald Dear Mr. Potter: The Provincial Government recently introduced a piece of legislation to amend the Planning Act. This is identified as Bill 51 and was approved on first reading on December 12, 2005. Buried within this Bill is a clause 23 to add a sub-paragraph to Section 62 of the Planning Act which would exempt private sector energy development projects in excess of 2 megawatts from the requirements of the Planning Act. This will allow the McGuinty cabinet to exempt from local control all decisions related to large scale energy projects including renewable generation, transmission line construction, and ancillary structures. Presumably this would include the current proposal by Brascan Power Wind to construct a wind farm on the Blue Highlands. The Blue Highlands Citizens Coalition strongly opposes Section 23 of Bill 51. The planning, siting and permitting of private sector power generation facilities should remain subject to local municipal control. The two principles which we have always stood for, local control and responsible, informed decision-making, are offended by this proposed elimination of municipal control over energy development issues. Land use planning issues are best dealt with through control at the local municipal level. The proponent- driven nature of the environmental screening process (a process which the Ministry of the Environment has recognized is in need of reform) provides little to no assurance that credible and legitimate local land use planning issues (e.g., density, set-backs, maximum height, cumulative effects of multiple projects, etc.) will be adequately addressed. Regardless of where one stands with regard to either the current wind power proposal, or any other form of renewable energy development, this seizure of local control is utterly inconsistent with democratic principles and should be vigorously opposed by local councils and concerned citizens. Public input is essential if Section 23 of Bill 51 is to be amended so as to ensure that private sector power generation development remains the subject of both (i) responsible, informed decision-making, and (ii) local municipal control. To see how individuals can express their concerns, please visit our homepage at www.bhcc.ca and click on “Bill 51”. Michael Young Vice President Blue Highlands Citizens Coalition NOTE: This letter was published verbatim in the Thornbury Courier-Herald on Jan 11/06