• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Peaker plant: Local coalition says facility should not be built near the Holland Marsh

In Energy
Jul 26th, 2010

By Gail Swainson Toronto Star July 23 2010
A coalition of farmers, residents and green activists are suing the provincial government for shoving through a gas-fired power plant next to the Holland Marsh.
“The Liberal government’s actions in circumventing the law to railroad this plant through are unprecedented, unfounded in law and could have a devastating affect on municipal and environmental processes for communities across Ontario,” said Mike Schriener, leader of the Green Party of Ontario, which spearheaded the suit.
The coalition says the province is contradicting its own Greenbelt Act.
An 8-page statement of claim that was filed Thursday in Newmarket court says that an order-in-council issued by the province in May that would allow the project to proceed, is in conflict with the province’s own Greenbelt policy statement and is an “inappropriate use of the Planning Act.”
The coalition is battling the proposed $365 million gas-fired electrical power plant, which is proposed on farmland adjacent to the Holland Marsh, dubbed Ontario’s “Salad Bowl,” about 50 km north of Toronto.
Even the critics agree the 393-megawatt York Energy Centre, proposed for a six-acre site in the small hamlet of Ansnorveldt on Dufferin St. north of Highway 9, is necessary to feed the power needs of York’s growing population. But they contend it is in the wrong location.
King Township council, which also opposes the plant’s location, placed a development freeze on the site. Pristine Power, which was chosen to build and operate the plant by Ontario Power Authority, appealed the freeze to the Ontario Municipal Board in the spring. A decision is expected sometime before the end of the summer.
But in late May, the province issued a surprise announcement saying it intended to exempt the plant from provisions of the Planning Act, meaning it could go ahead regardless of what the OMB decides.
The comment period passed earlier this week and now critics are waiting to see if the province proceeds with legislation.
Lawyer James Morton, who represents the coalition, said that with the exemption, the province has effectively short circuited its own OMB process and deprived his clients of their right to due process.
“There is a concern that the power plant will not receive a full review by the OMB, with all its safeguards,” Morton said. “The process is something that should be followed.”
Morton said his clients will wait until the province files its statement of defence, which must be issued within 20 days, before they decide how to proceed.
Meanwhile, Oakville Council continues to block construction of a 900-megawatt plant on Royal Windsor Dr. with a development freeze. Operator TransCanada is challenging the move in court.

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