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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Council Was the Last to Know about TC Energy Facility says Meaford Councillor

Meaford | by Cody Misner  

The deadline for public comment on the proposed pumped storage facility is March 31st 2020.

(Diagram of the Facility Layout, Courtesy of TC Energy Website) 

Meaford council received a report from the CAO this week updating them on the proposed TC Energy Pumped Storage Facility.

The report lays out a timeline of communications between the Department of National Defence, TC Energy and the Municipality of Meaford.  

In the report it states that municipal staff attended a TC Energy meeting in late February 2019 where the intention to build the facility was made clear if approval from DND was given.  

According to the report staff received the next piece of correspondence on June 6th 2019 stating that a land use agreement of 1 year had been granted to TC Energy by DND on Meaford base effective May 21st 2019.

Councillor Tony Bell responded to a question from a previous meeting asking when council was notified of this project. 

Bell responded by saying "I being one of three people at 2 o'clock on June the 17th was brought into a room and was made aware with two other councillors, to be quite honest council was the last to know."

The CAO went on to explain that TC Energy hadn't been hosting public consultations due to the federal election.

The report states that staff responded to this letter with one of their own that highlighted some questions and emphasized the need for public consultation.

The report does not state if there was a response to this letter.  

There is also a paragraph in the report that states "although the lands fall within the Municipality of Meaford, the Municipality has no jurisdiction for any approvals on Federal Lands."

The CAO then recommended council to not take a for or against stance on this issue right now but rather hold out for more reports and studies to be made available.

In the months since this project reached the community's ear there has been a great deal of resistance.

One of the groups leading the push against the facility is called Save Georgian Bay which is made up of concerned community members.  

The group has a petition which at the time of this writing has around 9,000 signatures.                                

Spokesman for the group Tom Buck, President of the Sunny Side Beach Association and former mayor of Farmington Michigan spoke to council before the report was given.  

He asked council to be apprehensive of TC Energy spending in the area and urged members of the community to speak out against the "Meaford Monstrosity" by contacting the Department of National Defence.  

In an interview following the update Buck criticized TC Energy for the lack of public consultations and hopes to see a better response from DND.

"We are hoping the Department of National Defence will be a good neighbour," Buck says, "and object to the proposal.  

Buck hopes to see council side against the project or take up an opposing stance of their own in the future.  

Save Georgian Bay has hosted public consultations of their own with the most recent meeting held over the Thanksgiving long weekend.  

At that meeting TC Energy says they offered to make a presentation but were turned away by event organizers.  

TC Energy will be hosting a town hall meeting at the Meaford Community Centre on the evening of December 11th.

This date drew criticism by both members of the community and members of council.  

The deadline for public comment on the proposed pumped storage facility is March 31st 2020.

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