Enerdu site, circa 1915.
Enerdu site, circa 1915.

by Brent Eades

The pages of the Millstone have recently seen heated debate between some members of Council and local residents over the alleged failure of Council to do enough to stop the Enerdu hydro project.

It is the Millstone’s view that Town Council acted in good faith in January 2013 when it voted unanimously to demand a so-called Part II Order — basically, a request to the Ontario government that Enerdu be compelled to address a long list of Town concerns about the impact of Enerdu on our community.

This request was ultimately denied by the province, although Enerdu was ordered to conduct a ‘Heritage Impact Assessment’, the results of which will shortly be sent to the minister concerned.

It appears Council then concluded that its legal options were exhausted, and resigned itself to Enerdu being a “done deal”.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case. The Millstone has learned that the Town could apparently pass a by-law declaring the Enerdu plant area off-limits to development for up to one year, because it lies within the area that is the subject of the recently approved Heritage Conservation District study.

Specifically, section 40.1 of the Ontario Heritage Act states:

40.1  (1)  If the council of a municipality undertakes a study under section 40, the council may by by-law designate the area specified in the by-law as a heritage conservation study area for a period of up to one year. 2005, c. 6. s. 29.

Same

(2)  A by-law made under subsection (1) may prohibit or set limitations with respect to,

(a) the alteration of property situated in the heritage conservation study area; and

(b) the erection, demolition or removal of buildings or structures, or classes of buildings or structures, in the heritage conservation study area. 2005, c. 6. s. 29.

The Millstone has also learned that at least some councillors and Town staff are aware of the by-law option, but are not fully certain if it applies in this case. The wording of the Act does seem unambiguous, and appears to pertain here.

The passing of such a by-law would delay the Enerdu plan for up to a year, and could possibly stop it dead. At the least it will buy time for the community to present its case more fully to the Ontario government — a hearing our community hasn’t really been given yet.

We urge you to press this issue with Town Council — to ensure they take the necessary steps to confirm they have this power, and if so, to exercise it.