Local reps visit Ontario’s capital to discuss Green Act
Mayors and staff from The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands visited Queen’s Park last week to make a presentation to the government standing committee on the Green Energy Act. The Act, through two readings and in the review process, proposes that any project falling under the standards for a renewable energy project, not be subject to municipal bylaws or process, and instead be a provincial matter. Mayor Ellen Anderson of The Blue Mountains was part of the delegation at Queen’s Park on Wednesday, April 8. "I think we were really successful in expressing that municipalities are very capable in working with natural energy projects," she said. "We were very adamant that we need to have a hand in it." While admitting that she understands the pressure on the province to move quickly with projects, especially of an environmental nature, she expressed concern that the decision might be made too quickly. "I’m pleased that we went," she said. "It was really worthwhile. I got the feeling that the review committee was really listening to our concerns." Grey Highlands municipal planner, Lorelie Spencer also made a presentation during the delegation. Grey Highlands Mayor Brian Mullin said he felt the presentation to the committee was successful. "I think we had a good presentation that was well received by the members. We listened to a few other delegations and I thought our presentation went over well," said Mayor Mullin. The Municipality of Grey Highlands spent in excess of $70,000 developing alternative energy policies for its Official Plan and is concerned its money and efforts will be wasted if the government passes the Green Energy Act. "The members of the committee had some knowledge of our policies. I think by the time (the government) roles out the regulations we will have influenced (the Bill)," Mullin said. Her report recommended that the bill not remove power from the local municipality, conservation authority and Niagara Escarpment Commission, that the existing Planning Act still apply to smaller renewable energy projects, that the requirement for a Conservation and Demand Management Plan mandated in the existing bill be modified to ease the cost for smaller municipalities and that the clause requiring a mandatory home energy audit for all Ontario homes prior to being sold be reviewed and an alternative, lower cost option chosen to ease the burden on tax payers.