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A proposed hydroelectric project at Meaford's 4th Canadian Division Training Centre has some residents concerned, but residents need to direct their concerns to the federal government, not Meaford's council, as was made clear at council's September 9 meeting.

The Department of National Defence (DND) has begun a notification and meaningful consultation process with Indigenous groups who may be impacted by a hydroelectric pumped storage project proposed by TC Energy Corporation (TC Energy) at 4th Canadian Division Training Centre in Meaford,” informed the federal government on its website. “We will also be engaging with third-party stakeholders, including the local community, as well as municipal, provincial and federal partners. We will provide regular updates on the proposed project, and will engage with potentially impacted Indigenous groups to ensure that we hear and respond to Indigenous interests and concerns.”

The proposed project is described as a 'hydroelectric pumped storage facility' that would be located next to Georgian Bay.

Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada has granted TC Energy a priority permit under the Dominion Water Power Act so it can begin its preliminary feasibility studies. The priority permit only gives TC Energy the right to be first in line to undertake feasibility studies for this type of project in the identified area. DND has provided TC Energy a one-year access agreement to complete its studies. This temporary access is being carefully coordinated to ensure minimal impact to military training and operations at 4 CDTC Meaford,” the website informs. “This access agreement does not mean that the project has been approved. If TC Energy decides to proceed with its proposed project after it has conducted its feasibility studies, it would be subject to further government review and approvals in consultation with Indigenous groups, the Meaford community, and other interested parties.”

The proposed hydroelectric facility would “consume inexpensive off-peak power at night to pump water from Georgian Bay into a storage reservoir located at the top of the Niagara Escarpment on 4 CDTC property. The reservoir would be emptied back into Georgian Bay during peak usage periods, driving hydraulic turbines to generate electricity.”

TC Energy has stated that the proposed project would cost roughly $3 billion to build the facility.

The proposal was raised during the Monday, September 9 council meeting, and it was noted that council has very little say with this type of a proposal, and those with concerns were encouraged to engage in the established public commenting process.

This is a proposal, a private enterprise proposal between Trans Canada Energy and the Department of National Defence. We have been aware of it, we are learning about it the same as all of our residents. There's no decisions or nothing more that we can offer at this stage because we, as I've said, are learning about it as is everybody else. This is private enterprise, it has nothing to do with the municipality at this stage,” Mayor Barb Clumpus explained.

Meaford CAO Rob Armstrong echoed the mayor's comments, and said that the municipality has encouraged the DND to facilitate as much community engagement as possible.

The initial commenting period opened at the end of May and those wishing to provide input can do so until March 31, 2020.

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

Image: TC Energy