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e-2575 (Environment)

E-petition
Initiated by Shari Richardson from Meaford, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

Whereas:
  • A proposed $3.3 billion hydroelectric pumped-storage plant by Trans Canada Energy in Meaford, Ontario, on Department of National Defence government land, if allowed to proceed, will change the lives of Georgian Bay residents and visitors, disrupting the natural beauty of the Georgian Bay and the Niagara Escarpment for decades or more, interrupting the natural movement of sediment along the shoreline, clouding our beautifully clear waters, and smothering fish spawning and rearing habitats with massive stone breakwaters and concrete structures;
  • The electricity supplied to and from the plant will potentially require new high-voltage transmission lines running through the beautiful residential properties and farmlands of many townships. This extends the area impacted by the proposed plant far beyond the shoreline of Georgian Bay; and
  • The pipeline that conveys water to and from the man-made reservoir will potentially extend approximately 1.7 kilometres inland, cutting a corridor up the Niagara Escarpment—one of the world’s natural wonders that it has been recognized as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
We, the undersigned, concerned taxpayers, call upon the House of Commons to stop TC Energy from building on Department of National Defence land which was land expropriated for military use; investigate new technologies that are compatible with the environment and can be built at smaller scales and located closer to the distribution grid, as with small nuclear reactors; and protect taxpayers and Georgian Bay from this project.

Response by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable JONATHAN WILKINSON

IMPACT ASSESSMENT AGENCY OF CANADA

  • The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada conducts federal impact assessments of major projects pursuant to the Impact Assessment Act (the IAA).
  • The federal process for assessments include the assessment of positive and negative environmental, economic, health, and social effects.
  • The Agency understands that TC Energy’s proposed hydroelectric pumped-storage plant would be subject to the IAA. The Agency is awaiting the submission of an acceptable initial description of the Project by the proponent.
  • Assessments by the Agency involve consultation with the public, federal authorities, and all other interested participants, including provincial officials.
  • Further information on the Agency is available online at https://www.canada.ca/en/impact-assessment-agency.html.
  • Questions on the Agency’s process can be directed to the Agency’s Ontario Region office via email at iaac.ontarioregion-regiondontario.aeic@canada.ca.

Response by the Minister of Natural Resources

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Mr. Paul Lefebvre

When developing new clean electricity infrastructure, such as the Trans Canada Energy pumped-storage plant in Meaford, Ontario, a wide range of issues must be considered, including local impacts. That is why major projects are subjected to extensive reviews that provide opportunities for input from those that could be affected. The issues identified in the petition are examples of factors that would need to be considered during the course of federal and provincial reviews. Trans Canada Energy is in the very early stages of introducing and developing this project and no approvals have been granted.

Making increased use of clean electricity is an excellent way to leverage our clean power advantage to both fight climate change and drive clean growth.

In 2017, the Government of Canada formed the Generation Energy Council with a mandate to advise how Canada can continue to transition to a reliable, affordable, low-carbon economy. The results of this work, summarized in the Generation Energy Council Report, highlighted the importance of many of the innovations mentioned in the petition, including small modular reactors (SMRs).

To capture the opportunities of SMRs, Natural Resources Canada convened a pan-Canadian dialogue, which resulted in a SMR Roadmap, containing 53 recommendations. Building on the momentum of the Roadmap, the Minister of Natural Resources Canada announced that the department would work with partners from across the country to turn the recommendations into reality through the very first SMR Action Plan.

In all, the Government of Canada has committed $2.3B in clean technologies since 2016. This includes significant investments in clean and renewable energy through the Pan-Canadian Framework (PCF), such as:

  • $220 million to transition rural and remote communities from diesel-powered generation to clean electricity;
  • Over $300 million to support the demonstration and deployment of electric-vehicle and alternative-fuel infrastructure, including a coast-to-coast network of electric vehicle charging stations;
  • $200 million to support the deployment of emerging renewable energy technologies;
  • $100 million to fund R&D related to smart grids, storage and clean electricity technologies; and
  • $1 billion to increase energy efficiency in residential, commercial and multi-unit buildings and expand on existing programs that include the EnerGuide Rating System, the ENERGY STAR® program and the Energy Manager Program.

Other important measures under the PCF include pricing carbon pollution, phasing out coal-fired electricity, introducing new building codes (Build Smart) and investing in the production and use of low-carbon fuels. Further information on investments being made under the PCF are available in the annual synthesis reports.

Response by the Minister of National Defence

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Anita Vandenbeld

National Defence manages more than 2,000,000 hectares of land and over 20,000 buildings across Canada. As a custodian of Crown land, National Defence is responsible for considering third-party access to its real property upon request.

Situated on 7,685 hectares of land next to Georgian Bay, the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre Meaford is a training facility for the Regular and Reserve Forces. TransCanada Energy has proposed the construction of a hydroelectric facility, and subsequently requested access to 200 hectares of National Defence’s land in Meaford. The electricity generated from the proposed pump station would be sold to the Ontario power grid.

National Defence is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the request and has not yet determined a position on the proposed project.

National Defence has undertaken the following steps as part of its decision making process.

  • Initial Feasibility Testing and Review:
    • National Defence issued TransCanada Energy a 1-year temporary access agreement to the land in order to complete the initial engineering and environmental feasibility testing in May 2019. National Defence is contemplating issuing another access agreement with TransCanada Energy to complete their initial studies and may include activities related to the Impact Assessment should the project be accepted as a designated project under the Impact Assessment Act.
    • National Defence has notified Indigenous groups that it is contemplating signing another agreement, and will independently review TransCanada Energy’s testing results, as a part of its decision making process.
  • Internal Assessment and Public Consultations:
    • National Defence is currently conducting its own comprehensive internal assessment to determine the project’s potential impacts on operational readiness, personnel training, the environment, Indigenous groups, and local communities.
    • As part of this assessment, National Defence consulted Indigenous groups, municipalities, the provincial government and external stakeholders, starting in May 2019. These consultations have included an online forum and three town halls. National Defence heard concerns regarding the proposed possible impacts on the environment, economic advantages, community’s safety, health concerns, and the importance of the land and its historical ties to community members. Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, National Defence has extended the consultation period until September 30, 2020, to ensure all voices are heard. National Defence would like to thank all individuals and organizations who participated in the consultation process to date.National Defence must finalize its comprehensive internal assessment which includes the review of TransCanada Energy’s feasibility studies before rendering its decision on the proposed project in the coming months.Should National Defence decide to accommodate the use of National Defence land at Training Centre Meaford for the proposed project, TransCanada Energy will be required to seek an Impact Assessment by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, according to the requirements of the Impact Assessment Act.

Regardless of the outcome, National Defence will engage again with stakeholders, Indigenous groups and local communities regarding the decision.

Open for signature
May 7, 2020, at 3:24 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
June 6, 2020, at 3:24 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Alex Ruff (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound)
June 17, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00285)
Government response tabled
September 24, 2020
Photo - Alex Ruff
Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound
Conservative Caucus
Ontario
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