Council refuses to hear delegation

Dunnville Chronicle: KAREN BEST - August 15, 2008

Janet Fraser cannot remain silent and will step forward to ensure Haldimand County residents have the information they need on energy generation options.

If anything, her resolve was strengthened after Haldimand County council rejected her request to make a presentation in opposition to a nuclear power. Two earlier requests were turned down.

At their Aug. 5 committee meeting, five council members voted to deny Fraser a chance to speak to them. Coun. Lorne Boyko and Mayor Marie Trainer voted against the refusal.

A member of the Grand Erie Energy Quest (GEEQ), Fraser said the group will host an energy symposium tentatively scheduled for early November. It was in the works long before council's decision last week.

"We felt we have to do what our council is not doing," said Fraser who lives in Cayuga. "The most important thing is for Haldimand County residents to be informed."

The symposium will be an opportunity for public discussion on energy options including nuclear power, coal fired generation and renewable sources.

Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett was invited to meet with the group and agreed to facilitate the symposium which will be similar to one he presented last year. Energy organizations will register through his office and a committee will decide who will speak at the meeting. He said the forum will be neutral and objective.

Because energy generation and production is of interest to people in Haldimand and Norfolk Counties, he said the symposium will probably take place in Jarvis. It's important to get people from both counties in the room, he said. His legislative assistant, Rob Willett, will manage the event.

Even though the Grand Erie Energy Quest was organizing their own public meeting, members fully expected that Fraser would be allowed to speak to council. Shocked and disappointed at the news, she learned a week ago that council decided her presentation was not necessary at this time.

"I find it hard to believe a council would refuse to hear a citizen's input on something so important for this area," she said this week. "It's just mindboggling...I feel we have no representation or voice."

She pointed out that Norfolk County council allowed delegations and that Hamilton council listened to a few speakers who wanted Hamilton declared a nuclear-free zone.

In June, Coun. Lorne Boyko raised the issue of delegations on items not included in the agenda. At a council meeting that month, council agreed to hear developer Jamie McMaster's presentation on Six Nations acquisition of land and the impact on the municipality's tax base. The issue was not part of the agenda. Similarly a nuclear power plant application has not been on the agenda but council did pay for part of an economic impact study of a plant and received the findings at a meeting.

In the past, non-agenda related delegations have been allowed. In 2004, George Roik of Dunnville spoke to council about a forensic audit of county finances.

As a result of Boyko's insistence, Fraser's request was scheduled for discussion at the Aug. 5 meeting.

During discussions that day, Coun. Tony Dalimonte said he regretted that council allowed McMaster's delegation and said that council should have had copies of his presentation prior to it being made.

Dalimonte, who is chair of the planning committee, said the county would hold a public meeting as required by Ontario law if a planning application for a plant came forward. He also thought council had previously agreed to holding one or more meetings in different county locations if a nuclear plant was proposed. While not in favour of hearing Fraser's delegation, he did say letters to the clerk would be okay.

Coun. Don Ricker also supported holding two open houses on such a large issue as a nuclear power plant. In January, the Dunnville autodrome public meeting drew a large audience and provided an opportunity for input, he added.

Coun. Buck Sloat noted that public meetings are part of the environmental assessment process.

"We encourage people not do special presentations," said planning and economic development general manager Craig Manley. "The county will have large meetings when required."

Last year at a few public meetings, Bruce Power president Duncan Hawthorne spoke about the benefits of having over $3 billion invested in a nuclear plant in the Nanticoke industrial park. Economic impacts would include 1,200 jobs, over $2 million in property taxes and at least $180 million injected into the local economy, he stated.

Before a plant can even be considered, three years would be spent on $20 million environmental assessment.

No project is underway in Haldimand County, according to Steve Cannon, media relations manager for Bruce Power.

Even so, a plant in the municipality has not been entirely ruled out.

"There's always an interest in Nanticoke," he said. "People have expressed an interest in forward looking and planning in the community... As long as that interest remains, it will always be an area of interest (for Bruce Power)."

If an environmental assessment is launched in Haldimand County, full public consultation and input gathering will be part of the process, noted Cannon.

Other projects are presently on the books for Bruce Power. Feasibility studies are underway in Saskatchewan and Alberta and as are environmental assessments on reactor refurbishment and new reactor construction at the BruceAand Bpowergeneratingstations in Tiverton, Ontario. On the shores of Lake Huron, the plants are located between Kincardine and Port Elgin.

Article ID# 1157760

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