by Mayor Shaun McLaughlin, first published in Shaun On Council
Just because the Enerdu issue seems quiet at present doesn’t mean nothing is happening. This post provides updates on the hydro resolution passed by Council, feedback from the Ministry of Natural Resources on the study by the field naturalists, efforts to contact other ministries, and the latest effort to derail the heritage area moratorium by-law.
In December 2014, I reported that the Committee of the Whole passed a resolution that aimed to get other towns onside in our campaign to get municipal authority over hydro projects. Council endorsed that decision on January 13, 2015. This week, staff mailed the resolution and a covering letter to fifty-six municipalities asking for their support.
The cover letter explained our predicament—a disruptive industrial project in our heritage urban core—and included the following paragraph:
“Any town with a river flowing through it faces the same threat. We believe that the province is being unfair and unreasonable in not giving a town’s planner and Council some oversight in such projects.”
In February, Councillor Torrance and I will present the resolution to Lanark County Council, on which we both sit, and ask for their endorsement.
MNR Response to MVFN
On December 1, 2014, a delegation from Mississippi Mills met with Resources Minister Bill Mauro. We discussed the scientific study produced by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN), which shows the maples in the Appleton wetland are dying due to continuously high water levels. We asked that the water management plan for Reach 18 (the river between Almonte and Appleton) be amended to lower the water level in the summer.
Yesterday (January 28), I received a letter from the supervisor of the MNR office in Kemptville, Scott Lee, acknowledging that the ministry is still reviewing the study. A separate letter sent to Cliff Bennett, the MVFN president, suggested that MNR is prepared to consider opening the water management plan. Mr. Lee asked the MVFN for more information.
All this shows that our request is not gathering dust on a shelf somewhere in Queen’s Park.
In December 2014, our CAO Diane Smithson made requests on my behalf to the Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli, and the Minister of Environment, Glen Murray, for a face-to-face meeting on the Enerdu project. Mr. Chiarelli’s office responded with a promise to provide a meeting date in the New Year. There is no response yet from Mr. Murray’s office.
Many members of Council will be in Toronto between February 22 and 25 at the annual OGRA-ROMA municipal conference. In advance of this event, the province invites towns to request a meeting with any minister. Council has requested a meeting with Glen Murray at that conference to discuss Enerdu and the Council resolution passed January 13. We will know in a few weeks if the meeting will happen.
Controversy continues over the heritage moratorium by-law Council narrowly passed in September 2014. Councillor John Edwards plans to bring a motion forward at the February 3 meeting of Council to rescind the by-law. It is hard to predict the outcome with three new members on Council and members wavering in their support.