Restoring Municipal Planning Authorities
ERO #013-4040. https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/013-4040
Submitted on January 17, 2019
PROPOSAL DETAILS, as stated on the ERO 013-4040 webpage, includes the comments:
“To apply for a REA, project developers will be required to submit written confirmation from local municipal authorities (from each municipality that would contain any project infrastructure) indicating that the proposed use of land at the project location is not prohibited by a zoning by-law.
Project developers will be required to provide this confirmation (to the appropriate Ministry to be eligible to apply for or receive a renewable energy approval.”
DISCUSSION ITEM 1: Zoning By-Laws
Considerable transition time will be required to allow municipalities to implement this change in planning authorities:
- Many existing zoning by-laws do not have specific regulations for renewable energy projects and any changes would require municipalities to review by-laws to ensure they meet their needs.
- Zoning bylaws need to be consistent with Official Plans which may trigger changes to Official Plans.
- Changes to Provincial Policy Statements governing Official Plans needed to support changes to Official Plans.
- Provincial approval is required for changes to Official Plans.
Recommendation SPECIFIC TO ITEM 1:
The proposed guidelines should include a requirement for municipal support resolution approved by the municipal council for the transition period that will be required to make necessary modifications to zoning by-laws and official plans.
DISCUSSION ITEM 2: PUBLIC CONSULTATION
The Proposal Details section for ERO 013-4040 states that: “Project developers would not be required to make the municipal confirmation available to the public before final public meetings.”
This is not an “open and transparent” public consultation process.
Recommendations specific to item 2:
2.1 Any municipal consultations should be disclosed to the public immediately.
2.2 Wider changes should be included in Ontario Regulation 359/09 to provide opportunities for full public input; e.g. use of plebiscites on proposed projects within the municipality boundaries.
2.3 Costs associated with public consultations should be borne by the project proponents, not by the municipality.
DISCUSSION ITEM 3, PROJECTS AFFECTED BY THIS PROPOSAL:
The Proposal Details section states that this change would apply to:
- initial applications for a (new) renewable energy approval
- applications the ministry is already reviewing
- applications to amend a renewable energy approval where the proposed change would take place in a different location than the original project
As proposed, this will exclude any changes to an existing project from municipal zoning bylaws, unless the change is made in a “different location”.
Project developers typically acquire additional, unused options on land leases, and also designate a much larger “project zone” around their projects’ actual physical footprints. Such arbitrarily defined “project zones” and properties with unused lease options should not be considered part of the “original project.”
For older projects nearing end of economic life; this proposal would allow replacement of existing turbines with much larger turbine (subject to other ministry requirements) but without municipal zoning approval.
Turbines operating in reduced power modes could be ‘re-powered’ i.e., increased output capacity, without municipal zoning approval.
RECOMMENDATIONS SPECIFIC TO ITEM 3:
3.1 For wind energy projects, explicitly define “a different location” as any properties that do not contain turbines or transformer substations.
3.2 Proposals for a renewal of expired contracts should be considered to be a “new project” subject to all applicable municipal by-laws.
3.3 Any new provincial guidelines and municipal zoning by-laws should apply to any replacement of turbines or significant project components such as transformers, unless those turbines or components are the same model or equivalent, and are replaced as a maintenance item. i.e. same physical size, output, noise emission, etc.
DISCUSSION ITEM 4: SETBACK PROVISIONS
The current setback regulations in O.Reg. 359/09 specify a minimum separation distance of 550 metres between wind turbines and non-participant residence or vacant building lot. This prevents municipalities from implementing more appropriate setback distances for wind turbines or transformer substations.
RECOMMENDATION SPECIFIC TO ITEM 4:
Revoke Section 54 (1) in O.Reg. 359/09 and replace it with the following amended version:
54. (1) Subject to subsections (1.1) to (2.1), no person shall construct, install or expand a wind turbine that meets all of the following criteria unless the centre of the base of the wind turbine is located at a distance from any occupied residence or vacant building lot in accordance with the setback requirement stipulated by the municipality by-laws:
DISCUSSION ITEM 5: ACCOUNTABILITY BY PROJECT OWNERS/OPERATORS TO MITIGATE PROBLEMS CAUSED BY THEIR PROJECTS.
RECOMMENDATION SPECIFIC TO ITEM 5:
5.1 Outstanding complaints regarding the operation of the existing turbines must be resolved to the satisfaction of residents or municipality, as required by the REA, before any changes to the turbines are approved.
5.2 Complaints regarding the operation of the existing turbines must be resolved to the satisfaction of residents or municipality, as required by the REA, before any change to the ownership of the project is approved.
Submitted January 17, 2019 3:58 PM