Sunday, June 4, 2023

Reader Suggests Meaford Residents have a ‘Wait-and-See’ Attitude Regarding Proposed Pumped Storage Facility


Meaford residents seem to have a wait-and-see attitude about protecting their homes and surroundings from the potential damage from eight years of TCE construction. So should they obtain guarantees from TC Energy about road upkeep, air and water quality, the health of residents, noise, and Bay ecosystems?

On July, 2021, the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre(DND) gave TC Energy the green light to develop the pumped storage on the Meaford Tank Range. Although Meaford is less than 10 minutes from the proposed site, DND decided, without input from the Meaford Municipal council, to allow TC Energy to pursue the Pump Storage project on federal lands. However, excavation of the 375-acre water reservoir and tunnels will be less than 1 kilometre from the nearest residential neighbourhood and 12 kilometres from the center (sic) of town. Therefore, eight years of construction activities will affect every citizen in Meaford.

Unlike other properties in the Municipality of Meaford, federal lands are not entirely ruled by municipal bylaws but fall under sections 91 and 92 of the constitution. Does this give TC Energy the same privileges as the military? In an article by Bayshore Broadcasting, dated July 25, 2022, TC Energy said, “it would be exempt from paying taxes or any payment in lieu of taxes under the Dominion Water Power Act, they would be willing to make a yearly tax equity to the municipality of $1.5-million.”

In a letter to the editor of The Meaford Independent on November 17, 2022, John Mikkelsen, representing TC Energy, assures everyone “that Georgian Bay and the local environment will be protected”, but there are no written guarantees. In an article by Bayshore Broadcasting on December 19, 2022, TC Energy “is anxious to have an agreement before they commit to the kinds of investment they would be making in the community.” However, TC Energy is unwilling to provide project details request through the freedom of information. So, where are the guarantees:

That the bay’s ecosystems be untouched, and the flora, fauna and marine life will not be affected?

That air quality is unaffected by blasting rock, and there will not be shortness of breath and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.

That no noise comes from dynamiting escarpment rock, and there will be no stress, high blood pressure or premature heart disease.

TC Energy will pay for additional road upkeep for heavy equipment, and the taxpayer will not be paying extra property tax.

We’ve heard from engineers who published letters and reports warning that construction will produce massive air and noise pollution from blasting the limestone from the Niagara Escarpment. In addition, the privileged status of the Pump Storage facility is not entirely ruled by Municipal bylaws. Therefore, the Municipal council, looking after the interest of its citizens and residents, needs written guarantees, not just promises.

This year, IESO rejected the Pump Storage for insufficient value to the ratepayers. But the Ministry of Energy mandated IESO to re-evaluate the project by January 31, 2023. In the same letter, dated July 25, 2022, to The Meaford Independent editor TC Energy claims that the “professional system operators at the IESO will assess the Project to ensure that it is needed for the grid reliability and that it provides affordable value to ratepayers”. In addition, John Mikkelsen says that “assessment processes are transparent and public.” Still, TC Energy has not published any factual data to back this up and does not respond to request made through freedom of information.

Pat Zita , Meaford


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