Friday, June 25, 2010

Comment #1: The Issue

Within the last year there have been major changes in the farming communities that will prove to have devastating consequences to the future of farming in Ontario. The Provincial government (acting as a majority government) has passed the Green Energy Act. In doing so, they claim that the mandate of that government is to develop clean energy from sources such as solar and wind and that they, with Ontario Power Authority, will offer massive subsidies to land owners that will assist in generating electricity for the grid.

The two common ways of reaching their goal are as follows:
#1 The MicroFIT Program is one in which the land owner buys his own 10 kw (or less) generating unit and the Ontario Power Authority pays for the power that is fed into the grid. Most land owners place these structures where there is no significant loss of productive ground, whether the panels are placed on an existing roof, fencerow or barnyard. This program is to be encouraged.

#2 The FIT Program is where the land owner enters into a long term lease with a developer that will assume control over the land for up to thirty years. Under such arrangements, the land is fenced (8′), monitored with camera and motion sensors and the land is essentially lost to agriculture. Structures from 2-14′ high would then grace the land. This is not agriculture, but the construction of a long term electrical generating facility. The developer wants only large tracts of largely level land for his construction and has no concern for the land except as a base to hold the panels.

One developer from California claims to have tentative offers for 184 leases of Ontario land. If each parcel was 75 acres, that would equate to the loss of 13,800 acres. This is land that will never be back in food production as we know it – we’ll be telling you more about the devastating long-term effects of these “farms”.

This not a legacy our children want to see. Already there is valuable farmland lost to the uncontrolled growth of our cities, so surely the government has to think and act in a manner that is not selling out our farmland to largely foreign interests.

1 comment:

  1. The following is an excerpt from the Ontario Building Official Association's June 2010 Journal.

    The Green Energy Act and its Effects on Building Permits

    The Green Energy and Green Economy Act (“Green Energy Act”) is now in force and effect. On September 24, 2009, Ontario Regulation 359/09 (“O.Reg. 359/09”) was prescribed under the Environmental Protection Act that outlines the process for individual parties to obtain a Renewable Energy Approval (REA). The Province’s streamlined application process and curbs on municipal review and approval of “renewable energy projects” are now in force and
    effect. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the REA Review process and the impacts of the Act on the issuance of building permits for such projects.

    Green Energy and Green Economy Act

    The purpose of the Green Energy Act is to encourage the development of renewable energy generation by both the public and private sectors. To achieve this, the Act created
    a streamlined renewable energy approval process through the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) and exempts applicable projects from municipal planning approvals. The Province believes that by promoting and removing barriers to constructing renewable energy generation, additional jobs will be created and energy efficiency improved while reducing overall demand for more traditional forms of energy,
    in particular fossil fuel generation. The Province is supporting this policy by providing $2.3 billion in investment financing to 2012, of which half is to be spent in northern Ontario, as well as pricing guarantees for generators.

    Over the past five to ten years, many municipalities have amended their Official Plans and Zoning By-laws to regulate renewable energy uses, buildings and structures such
    as wind turbines, solar panels and larger commercial generators or renewable energy. These policies apply to projects as diverse as commercial generation facilities to individual
    turbines and solar panels on individual lots, and in some cases, diverse generation sources such as biomass and waste to energy conversion.

    The Green Energy Act exempts all such projects from municipal planning documents. In effect, a municipality cannot use an Official Plan or Zoning By-law to impose any prohibition, setback or operating restriction on any renewable energy project (although some setbacks from environmental features are required by the O.Reg. 359/09). In fact, certain projects will not require any municipal approval at all.

    Ontario Regulation 359/09 and Renewable Energy

    Larger projects will still require an application, review and public process. The Green Energy Act provides for a slightly modified Certificate of Approval process for such projects. The process for obtaining a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) is detailed in O.Reg. 359/09, which was published on September 24, 2009. This process is coordinated through the district office of the Ministry of the

    O.Reg. 359/09 creates a series of classes, or tiers, of projects defined by the scale of the project within each type of renewable electrical generation facility.


    Council [City/Municipal] approval is not required for any small-scale renewable energy generation development
    projects. The consultation process could consider Development
    Guidelines approved by Council, but any such
    guideline cannot be used to stop a project from proceeding.
    When a Building Permit is required
    Building officials are required by law to issue a permit for
    any proposal that complies with all applicable law. If a proponent’s
    design meets the standards of O.Reg. 359/09
    and the Building Code, a building permit must to be issued.