Municipalities have Official…

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Municipalities have Official Plans. The Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing defines an Official Plan as:

“An official plan describes your upper, lower or single tier municipal council or planning board's policies on how land in your community should be used. It is prepared with input from your community and helps to ensure that future planning and development will meet the specific needs of your community.”

Official Plans define employment, agricultural, residential, institutional, environmental, and commercial areas which are supported and enforced through zoning by-laws.

For years, industrial solar and wind energy facilities have been approved and constructed across rural Ontario NOT in zoned industrial or even commercial areas, but in agricultural and sensitive environmental areas with no consideration to their cumulative impact or direct impact on the physical, social, cultural, and environmental well-being of many rural communities.

To propose in the regulation to grandfather existing renewable energy projects, especially those not in the construction phase, is an insult to municipalities and their residents; many who have fought for years to stop these unwanted, un-needed industrial tax burden from ruining their rural communities for dubious and limited energy production and the financial benefit of mostly foreign owners.

There are still outstanding issues from operating industrial wind and solar plants including over 4500 noise complaints , complaints about flicker, many complaints about groundwater contamination, and permanent environmental degradation including the excessive bird and bat kills to the point of extirpation by the installation of hundreds of wind turbines.

Multiple lawsuits regarding damage to nearby properties have been filed regarding installed industrial solar facilities, not to mention the permanent loss of agricultural and environmental degradation.

Most of the approved projects proposed to be grandfathered have not been constructed and have passed their MCOD (Milestone Commercial Operation Date) such as the controversial Solar # 19 plant awarded a contract almost six years ago under the 2013 FIT 3 program (FIT contract F-006082-SPV-310-722) located at 6330 Ganaraska Road, Campbellcroft in the Municipality of Port Hope. There was no community consultation or notification; neither was there any consultation with the municipality of Port Hope. Approval of this project means destruction of restricted prime agricultural lands, as well as serious environmental degradation of the Oak Ridges Moraine. This solar project, which might produce energy equivalent to 50 households at maximum production, has been the focus of numerous appeals to all levels of government by residents as well as much media coverage. After 6 years, this industrial project , still not begun construction, like so many others, must NOT be grandfathered and must be cancelled.

If municipalities are to be given the right to declare themselves willing hosts for these sort of industrial energy projects even though these facilities have not proven to be of value, then those energy projects MUST be restricted to ‘industrial’ and/or ‘commercial’ areas as defined in their Official Plans. Municipalities must be directed to hold at least two public meetings and gauge the ‘willingness’ of the residents to allow such industrial developments within their community and free from the influence of developers. Developers in the past have influenced cash-strapped municipalities by promising ‘community benefit funds’. This must not be allowed. There must also be an avenue for appeal of any municipal decision.

The PC government received much support from the rural community in the recent election because they expected this government to cancel these tax burdens that have caused so much harm and will continue to do so if unconstructed approved projects are allowed to be grandfathered. Failure to do so, is certain to be expressed in future by-elections and provincial election.