By MPP Toby Barrett
People from all corners of Ontario descended on Queens Park last week demanding local municipal decision-making power be reinstated with respect to industrial wind turbines.
While municipalities and residents have their say on, for example, where a new Tim Hortons or Walmart is located, Mr. McGuinty continues to allow faceless unelected bureaucrats and the companies themselves decide on wind towers.
With no planning directives from council, and no yellow roadside zoning signs, Mr. McGuinty’s Green Energy Act has neutered municipal councilors, taking away their power, and the power of area people, to have their say.
As people rallied outside, Opposition Leader Tim Hudak was inside formally questioning, “..you’re bringing in the largest industrial wind farm in the entire province in West Niagara and the Glanbrook area…Will you do the right thing and support the bill…and restore local decision-making like the 80 municipalities have called for?”
“The bill” Hudak referred to, the Local Municipality Democracy Act, 201, was introduced by MPP Todd Smith from Prince Edward Hastings. The legislation, proposing to restore municipal planning previously stripped by the Green Energy Act, was debated that afternoon.
McGuinty’s response to Hudak made it clear his MPP’s would vote “no”, citing uncertainty that would, “run counter to the determination expressed by all Ontarians”.
Rural folks who attended the debate and rallied outside indicated a different “determination,” with a show of signs: “Turbines lower property values”, “The greed energy act”, “Victim of industrial wind turbines”, “Save the birds, kill the turbines”, “Turbines make bad neighbours”.
The signs, echoed petitions with thousands of signatures being read in the Legislature: Here’s part of one from Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones: “Whereas municipalities have always had control over planning matters in their communities; …return planning power to municipalities and local residents.… ”
And this from Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Todd Smith: “Whereas, 80 municipal councils, representing two million Ontarians, called on the government to put in place a full moratorium on industrial wind development”
And I read in the following on behalf of resident in and around the Port Ryerse area: “reinstate municipal powers to allow Norfolk County to reassess and increase setbacks to 2,000 metres in populated areas, to honour a moratorium on construction until these bylaw adjustments are met, and to reimburse lost property values in this affected community.”
Many of these themes – particularly those referring to the importance of restoring local democracy – were picked up during the afternoon debate of MPP Smith’s bill.
“I’ve said this before, and I’m certainly not alone in saying that the greatest injustice of the Dalton McGuinty government is that his bureaucrats are here in downtown Toronto, making decisions about where to locate industrial wind turbines in my riding…” – Lambton–Kent–Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton.
And Perth–Wellington MPP Mr. Randy Pettapiece stated, “This is not a debate about green energy itself; it’s about the need for the McGuinty government to start treating its municipal partners with respect and recognizing the critical role in the planning process which is rightfully theirs.”
Chatham–Kent–Essex MPP Mr. Rick Nicholls: “I’m here today because the people of Chatham-Kent said, “Enough is enough.” They don’t support Dalton McGuinty’s view that he knows better than local officials.” –
While a Liberal-NDP voting block has defeated the bill, given the growing call for municipal oversight, this issue is far from over…