Multinationals could soon develop Ontario’s Provincial Parks
Lawrence Solomon January 30, 2011 – 2:33 pm
Crown land could help South Korea’s Samsung meet its $7-billion wind and solar developments
Ontario’s provincial parks may soon be open to wind and solar developers to help meet the goals of its Green Energy Act, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has revealed in a “strategic policy review of renewable energy development on Crown land.” The government move follows fierce opposition from communities across the province, which object to having industrial wind farms and the transmission towers they require as neighbours. By locating the wind turbines in provincial parks, and recasting the wind farms as wind parks, the province hopes to sidestep much of the landowner opposition seen to date.
Opening up crown land to renewables and transmission line developers has other advantages, too. By providing land at low rates, the province could blunt one of the chief objectives to The Green Energy Act – the immense power increases that the province’s ratepayers are experiencing. The province’s vast park holdings will also assist developers who have had difficulty in acquiring large tracts of land from troublesome landowners.
This week, for example, Korean multinational Samsung failed to reach an agreement with Canada’s largest aboriginal group, Six Nations, over wind and solar projects that would help Samsung meet a $7-billion development commitment to the province. Access to crown land would not only give Samsung other options, it would also improve its bargaining ability with landowners like Six Nations who are willing to give up their land for developments, but are holding out for a better deal. Most of the renewables industry is controlled by multinationals, not by home-grown idealists, as some might imagine.
The province is now rushing through its policy review, with a completion date expected this spring “given the importance of Crown land to supporting the Green Energy Act and the province’s Long Term Energy Plan.”