Green Party wants dialogue

It is regrettable that siting wind turbines has become such a controversial subject (Wind farm opponents vocal at Manvers meeting, Orono Weekly Times, Wed May 26).

In order to maintain a reliable electrical system, Ontario will need an ambitious energy efficiency program, demand management, a smart grid and a diverse and distributed mix of renewables, including wind generation.

Yet, how to address the concerns of the community?

One of the most important guiding values of the Green Party of Ontario in moving toward a greener and a more sustainable future is to promote community-based economies.

The transition to green energy has the potential to create opportunities for all Ontarians to become energy entrepreneurs and for the economic benefits to flow to local participating communities across the province. As such, the Green Party believes that green energy projects should not proceed without a minimum local ownership target and without on-going financial benefits flowing to the local municipality hosting such projects.

Communities must be involved in determining their future, and there must be a democratic process for local input into the development of new energy projects. The Orono Weekly Times article highlights the lack of a frank, open and cordial dialogue between the proponents and the community. It is difficult for residents to have faith in the process if the legislation favours a heavy handed “top-down” approach to approvals. An on-going conversation would build a mutual sense of trust and respect.

To protect landowners and their neighbours, the government must implement tighter regulations and more transparency in lease arrangements for wind farm developments. As well, additional research on the health effects of all forms of power production—coal, nuclear, gas, oil and wind – is essential. It is important to apply the precautionary principle to all energy projects in order to select methods of generation and rules that minimize health concerns.

Ontario, like many jurisdictions around the world, is struggling with how to maintain prosperity and quality of life in a world where the cost of fossil fuels will continue to rise. Likewise, the cost of refurbishing or replacing our aging nuclear facilities presents a financially untenable reality for Ontario taxpayers and the health of our environment. Energy efficiency is the most financially responsible and effective approach to addressing our energy needs. The government must be pushed to make conservation a higher priority than new supply generation.

Therefore, the Green Party believes that the government’s implementation of the Green Energy Act must be reformed to focus on community ownership, benefits, health and decision making.

Louis Bertrand
President, Durham Green Party of Ontario Constituency Association
Bowmanville ON