My Comments on the Peaker Plant in the Holland Marsh
Posted on July 11th, 2010 in current events
This is a copy of comments submitted to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing regarding the Peaker Plant proposed for the Holland Marsh. Well, not proposed – underway, really, despite rules to protect the Marsh from this type of development, the unanimous voting against it by the Councillors of King Township, and the disapproval by farmers in the Marsh.
As a resident of the Province of Ontario, I am concerned about the Peaker Plant project that is under way in the Township of King. In short, this plant is not suitable for the location that has been selected, and the process by which the project is taking place should be considered illegal. This is not NIMBYism – this is simply a flawed process and a bad idea.
I am not denying the need of power in this region; having grown up in neighbouring Newmarket and Holland Landing in the 1980s and 1990s, I’ve seen the population of the area grow exponentially. I know the northern part of York Region is a desirable community to live in, and towns such as East Gwillimbury and Georgina have not yet reached their peak capacity.
The only part of the chosen location of the Peaker Plant in the Holland Marsh that makes any sense is the proximity to the Holland Marsh Junction and existing infrastructure.
The chosen property, while technically not within the boundaries of the Holland Marsh, is literally only 500m outside of the Marsh. Despite being outside of the boundary, according to the Ontario Soil Survey this location is still sitting upon some of the best agricultural soil in Canada – soil that is rapidly disappearing, along with our country’s food-producing lands, to urban development.
The chosen location is also within the boundaries of the Greenbelt, and area that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing claims to want to protect and grow:
“Ontario will continue to support efforts to curb urban sprawl by protecting our valuable farm land, countryside, water resources and wetlands.” – Hon. Jim Bradley
It is also barely outside the boundaries of the Oak Ridges Moraine, another ecologically sensitive area that the government has promised to protect.
The effects of emissions from peaker plants such as this is not well enough known. This project is risking damage to the local crops (the Marsh produces half of Canada’s carrots and onions alone), the soils, as well as ground and surface water.
It is also in a flood plain, which is just stupid planning altogether.
Additionally, it not where the users are. As this land is protected under both the Oak Ridges Moraine Act and the Greenbelt Act, urban development will not occur here. Therefore, the people who will be requiring the use of the Peaker Plant are not going to be located here. You are forcing not only the residents of King Township to pay for the power requirements of the residents of East Gwillimbury and Georgina, but the rest of vegetable-eating Canadians as well.
DANGEROUS LEGAL & POLICY PRECEDENT
By allowing this project to go through, the Ontario Government is blatantly disregarding it’s own regulations, namely the Planning Act, the Greenbelt Act, and the Oak Ridges Moraine Act. It is also clearly circumventing the Environmental Site Assessment process.
This is simply nothing more than abuse of power and process by the Ontario government. If the province cannot abide by its own rules and regulations, why institute them in the first place? This sets a dangerous precedent moving forward, that the government can be allowed to break rules for the benefit of a single company when and if it suits. If the municipalities of Ontario must abide by the rulings set forth in the Greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine acts, then so must the government of Ontario.
Therefore, I strongly urge the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to withdraw this regulation immediately.
This was sent to both Hon. Jim Bradley, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, as well as the regional director, Larry Clay. Larry Clay appears to be on holidays, so I also sent it to his two assistants who were named in his auto-responder, Tom Gutfreund and David Sit. Tom Gutfreund is also on holidays, and can’t spell July (Juloy, according to his auto-responder).
I then sent a copy of the letter on to the following:
- Bill Fisch – Regional Chair, York Region
- Paul Calandra – MP, Oak Ridges – Markham
- Peter Van Loan – MP, York – Simcoe
- Helena Jaczek – MPP, Oak Ridges – Markham
- Jack Rupke – Councillor, King Township & Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority Board of Directors
- Margaret Black – Mayor, King Township
- Frank Klees – MPP Newmarket-Aurora
- Carol Mitchell – Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for Ontario
- Lois Browm – MP Newmarket- Aurora
- Brad Duguid – Minister of Energy and Infrastructure for Ontario
- Julia Munro – MPP, York – Simcoe
- Globe & Mail Letters to the Editor
- Toronto Star Letters to the Editor
Update – 18/09/2010:
The Environmental Commissioner, Gord Miller, will be presenting a report to Ontario legislature next week, and in it includes his concerns about the process (or lack of) that has allowed the peaker plant to be approved. See Holland Marsh power plant under fire for more information.