TC Energy held their third community information meeting at the Meaford & St. Vincent Community Centre on Thursday, January 23, and if others in the community viewed those meetings through a similar lens as mine, I have to say they failed to impress or convince.
Not that TC Energy would really feel the need to connect with and convince the community, because they are a multi-billion dollar company that is quite used to getting its way, and I felt as if the engagement with the community was simply a box that had to be checked on the list of necessary actions en route to their latest project.
That TC Energy did not impress with the information they provided is no surprise because they have really provided little in the way of answers to the most pressing questions on people's minds. They have explained their vision for the project, but at this point they have no answers to the important stuff, and that can be frustrating indeed.
When we get frustrated we can easily find irritation in the smallest of things (like a slick city meeting emcee telling a hall full of rural folks where the washrooms are in their own dang arena for example), and so when I find myself becoming frustrated I like to take a step back before going on a rant, as I can sometimes do when I see nothing but spin being presented to me.
To be fair, I see merit in the intent of the project, I understand the need going forward for some sort of energy storage if we are ever to transition away from old dirty energy to new renewable energy sources, but as I have written before, if such a project is worth a big corporation spending more than $3 billion, then it should also be worth the cost of building a closed loop system so that there is no risk of any negative impact on the surrounding environment and ecology.
If a closed loop system is cost-prohibitive, then in my opinion a different solution needs to be found, plain and simple.
At Monday's council meeting, Councillor Steve Bartley said something that I have written previously – that he can't imagine that either the Ministry of Natural Resources or the Department of Fisheries and Oceans would give their blessing to any project that would result in the killing of fish in our waters. While I can't imagine either of those ministries giving a green light to this project if it can't be proven that there will be no negative impact on our bay, I am not naive enough to forget that ultimately money talks, and we the public aren't holding bags of money for a counter-proposal or to put up any real resistance.
Residents still have time to engage in the established process – the DND's public consultation period doesn't close until the end of March, so those wishing to participate still have two months to do so.
Equally important for those wanting to see this proposed project rejected would be to lobby our MP and our MPP. I understand people marching to the council chamber, but council is as helpless in this situation as any Joe on the street, and the people that really need an earful are our representatives at upper levels of government, as they have a much greater chance of influencing the outcome of this proposal, particularly should it move beyond this initial feasibility study phase.
So I would encourage anyone in the community who has strong opinions on the proposed project, whether in favour or against, to do as much research as you can, and to engage in the process. Councillor Ross Kentner noted at Monday's council meeting that the community has the cards stacked against it, and while that is certainly very true, that doesn't mean that it is impossible for residents to help move things in a particular direction.
Those wanting to offer input or opinions about the proposal can send an e-mail to Holly King, Section Head, Directorate Real Property Services, DND, at ThirdPartyAccess@forces.gc.ca with your feedback.
More information can be found by visiting www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/campaigns/consultations-4th-division-hydroelectric-pumped-storage-meaford.html and www.tcenergy.com/operations/power/pumped-storage-project/.