Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Letter from Tim Hudak - Restoring local decision-making

Restoring local decision-making

By Tim Hudak, mpp Niagara West-Glanbrook


Dec 06, 2011

I’ve always believed in local decision making. Families, small businesses and local governments know what’s best for their communities and should have a say in what goes on within their own boundaries.

So much of what I do as your member of provincial parliament is guided by your advice and the personal stories and experiences I hear from you. There’s no better way to understand how government policies are affecting families and businesses than hearing it first hand.

That was one of the reasons I continue to vigorously oppose the McGuinty government’s Green Energy Act. The Act effectively removed all local control over renewable energy projects, allowing industrial wind farms– some the height of 40-storey buildings– to be placed like pins in a pin cushion in communities without the approval of local councils or residents.

There are two such wind projects planned for West Lincoln and Wainfleet, one of which will be the largest wind farm in all of Canada. Despite strenuous objections from local families and municipal councils, those plans continue to plough ahead.

To date, 79 municipalities across Ontario– including West Lincoln and Wainfleet– have passed resolutions or moratoriums opposing wind farm projects in their communities. Our Ontario PC Caucus attempted to do the same in the Ontario Legislature in April 2010, but sadly our efforts were defeated.

To me it makes no sense that you have a say in where a local hot dog stand or Tim Hortons goes in your neighbourhood but not 40-storey industrial wind turbines. It’s a right our Ontario PC Party campaigned on restoring, and we continue to fight on your behalf to give you a voice.

I was pleased to join West Lincoln Mayor Doug Joyner and Wainfleet Mayor April Jeffs at a rally outside Queen’s Park recently in protest of these massive wind projects.

That same day, inside the Ontario Legislature, we debated a Private Member’s Bill called The Local Municipality Democracy Act, which was introduced by my Ontario PC Caucus colleague Todd Smith, MPP for Prince Edward-Hastings. The Bill would have ensured local families’ concerns on industrial wind farms were no longer ignored.

While I voted in favour, and my Ontario PC colleagues voted in favour, regrettably both the Liberal and NDP members chose to vote against letting local residents, businesses and municipal councils have a say in where these massive construction projects are located.

It wasn’t the first time our efforts to restore local decision making powers were thwarted in the Legislature, and it most certainly will not be the last time they hear from us on this issue.

The approach being taken today by the McGuinty government is arrogant. It’s unfair. It’s undemocratic. And we’re going to continue to fight to put a stop to it.

The Ontario PC Caucus will continue to be the voice of concerned communities until they once again have a say in what happens in their own neighbourhoods.