Sunday, July 21, 2024

Township of The Archipelago Expresses Opposition to Pumped Storage Proposal


There was some heartening news recently for the thousands of local and regional residents who oppose TC Energy’s (TCE) multi-billion dollar pumped storage project on the DND’s 4th Division Training Centre in Meaford.

On November 17, the Council of The Township of The Archipelago in Parry Sound District – miles away and on the opposite shores of Georgian Bay – passed a resolution “vehemently” opposing the project. It cited many thoroughly-researched negative impacts for their stance, from environmental and human safety concerns to the detrimental economic effect on local fisheries and the vital tourism industry. Besides, it pointed out, “it is a very bad financial deal for Ontario.”

The township’s resolution came just a day after a detailed presentation by the Georgian Bay Association that represents the combined voice of 19 community associations along the eastern and northern shores of Georgian Bay. Together, they work to preserve the fragile waterways and wilderness around the Bay.

Bravo to the township’s councillors! They epitomize responsible, responsive and respectful leadership and governance. They listened to constituent concerns and acted expeditiously. Within days, a copy of the resolution was sent to all municipalities in the Georgian Bay Basin, as well as federal and provincial ministers, political representatives, the DND, and Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator. Among the many recipients: Meaford Council.

But has our council scheduled a discussion of this move by a neighbouring municipality on Georgian Bay? Not that we can see.

Still, that responsible and responsive leadership in a distant township – accountable for its environmental stewardship and the unique blessings of its location on the bay – offers a refreshing contrast to the reaction of Meaford’s own governing body.

Over the past four years, dozens of scientific, environmental and engineering professionals in the area and thousands of community residents have diligently researched and voiced sound arguments why this project, one of the largest infrastructure initiatives in Canada, should not proceed.

Their research and expertise has fallen on deaf ears at Meaford Council.

Our current council, (with two notable exceptions) has chosen to hide behind the cloak of a questionable rationale. Most members like to argue that they had little say in the project’s approval process. In fact they had a very real, indeed crucial say. They had the power to decide whether to declare Meaford a “Willing Host” for the project, or not. In a 5-2 vote last February, they chose the former – a mandatory requirement for the project’s approval by the province. As Ontario’s Energy Minister told a meeting of the Empire Club on December 11, “We’ve empowered mayors and councils. If a council says ‘no’, it’s not going to get built. It’s as simple as that.”

In Meaford, the majority on council embraced the corporate Goliath of TC Energy and its tantalizing promises of potential riches for the town, apparently to be laid out in a Community Benefit Agreement. To date, residents have not been given any idea what the town is requesting or what TCE is offering.

There are a growing number of innovative, more efficient and less environmentally devastating energy storage options coming on stream to help meet Ontario’s growing electricity needs. These include battery storage which would be far less of a financial burden on Ontario taxpayers than TCE’s antiquated and exorbitantly expensive technology.

It may be wishful thinking to think that this Council will consider reversing its stance and examine some of these options. Clearly, TCE has had an inordinate influence on some and the lure of perceived benefits is intoxicating.

But our council still does have a choice: does it listen to our voice or the wealthy and powerful voice of a Calgary-based corporate giant with a spotty safety record. Which will it be?

We should remember who listened to us when we go into the next municipal election in 2026.


Anne Boody Horwood, Meaford

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