King says it’s out of options Municipality sits out legal challenge over peaker plant

King Township will not join the legal action launched by the leader of the Green Party of Ontario and residents over the province’s decision to exempt the York Energy Centre from provisions of the planning act.
King council opted Monday to take a neutral stance on the legal action initiated last month.

While the township is certainly not in favour of hosting the 393-megawatt natural gas-fired facility, slated for Dufferin Street north of Miller’s Sideroad, Mayor Margaret Black said staff and outside legal advisers recommended the municipality sit this one out.
The lawyer’s advice was very strong, she said, adding the town was told it has a “million-in-one chance of winning” and even if it does, the province can simply pass another law to exempt the peaker plant.
The township has done everything in its power to convince the province it picked the wrong spot, Ms Black said, but acknowledged it is simply out of options.
The Ontario Municipal Board recently decided the interim control bylaw passed by King to halt the facility was overruled by the province’s exemption, she said
Meanwhile staff has been told the OMB will most likely not return a verdict on the hearing earlier this year.
“Our lawyer said King put its full heart into this, but King can do no more,’” Ms Black said, adding staff “could not find a remedy for us other than for our community to voice its opinion at the ballot box in the next provincial election.”
Despite King’s decision not to participate, the push for a judicial review is continuing, Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said.
“It’s proceeding and we are awaiting a response from the government,” Mr. Schreiner said, adding a reply is expected any day. “The plaintiffs will evaluate where we’re at when we receive a response.”
As for King not getting involved in the action, Mr. Schreiner said it wasn’t his place to interfere in the municipal decision-making process. However, he did note residents who spoke at Monday’s King council meeting made a strong case for the township to join as a plaintiff.
It’s tough to say how long it will take for the challenge to make its way through the courts, Mr. Schreiner said.
“We don’t anticipate a resolution immediately,” he said. “It all depends on the government’s response.”
Time is ticking, however, as Pristine Power, the company selected to build the York Energy Centre, is forging ahead.
Pristine’s vice-president of sustainable development and environment, Julia Ciccaglione, recently said construction work could commence late this month or early September. The target completion date of the project is mid-2012.

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