When the people rose up
The timeline to victory against the power plant -
Saturday, April 13, 2013
This timeline is dedicated to all who helped defend Oakville. May the lessons learned strengthen any future defense of our town.
On August 18, 2008
, the Ministry of Energy issues a Ministerial directive to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to develop a power plant of up to 850 MW in Etobicoke, Mississauga or Oakville (and forbids using the site of the former Lakeview Generating Station
On October 2, 2008
, the Ontario Power Authority issues a Request for Qualifications to identify potential bidders for the contracts to build and operate the power plant.
On January 16, 2009
, the OPA announces the RFQ winners. TransCanada is not among them
. I ask my staff to begin preparing a proper planning response for this development.
Between February 4 and March 3, 2009
The Ontario Power Authority holds a series of public information sessions in Mississauga, Etobicoke, and Oakville on the power plant and in response to my criticism, says, "The OPA is not in the business of protecting the environment."
In February 2009
, at my request, Council passes unanimous resolutions warning Oakville of the danger of a power plant.
In March 2009
, Council adopts an Interim Control By-law to block applications for power plants.
In March 2009
, I become aware that Ford officials are aggressively promoting their location in Oakville for a power plant to all of the Ontario Power Authority's qualified bidders and to TransCanada
, who has not qualified in the OPA's Request For Qualifications process. Three times I ask the head of Ford about their activities. Ford denies they are marketing their land to the power companies.
In April 2009
, Ford and TransCanada appeal my Interim Control By-law to the Ontario Municipal Board
In July 2009
, I call together the leaders of all the residents groups in Oakville and begin a community leaders roundtable at the end of every month to raise community awareness.
(It continues to this day.)
In summer 2009
, I hear from a source at Ford that the provincial government is promising Ford they will get the power plant
In August 2009
, I meet with the Premier to protest Oakville even being considered as a location. He gives the commitment that becomes the provincial Balsille task force on air quality in the Oakville-Clarkson air shed.
In September 2009
, the provincial government creates the Southwest Greater Toronto Area Air Quality Task Force. In December, the province appoints David Balsille, PhD, as the task force head to study the air quality of the Oakville-Clarkson air shed and make recommendations.On September 30, 2009, the OPA chooses the Ford site for the power plant and selects TransCanada to build it.
In October 2009
, people begin to rise up and C4CA (Citizens 4 Clean Air) forms. Council and I welcome them to the battle against the power plant. They play a crucial role in our eventual victory.
On December 4, 2009
, the Ontario Municipal Board upholds my Interim Control By-law. The OMB says I did exactly the right thing at exactly the right time and for exactly the right reasons.
On February 8, 2010
, a 620 MW gas-fired power plant outside Middletown, Connecticut, explodes, killing six and injuring scores.
The closest homes are one mile away. The explosion blows out windows in a hospital 4 miles away.
On March 2, 2010
, C4CA conducts a rally on the lawn of Queen’s Park to protest the power plant, joined by me and much of Council.
I accuse Ford of stabbing Oakville in the back.
In March 2010
, Mrs. Mulvale shows up for the first time in this battle, writing as a former mayor a letter to the Beaver defending Ford and telling everyone to leave Ford out of it. (Many believe the letter by Mrs. Mulvale gives encouragement to Ford to keep fighting at the side of TransCanada to build the power plant.)
On March 9, 2010
, a town committee denies Ford’s applications to transfer the land on Royal Windsor Drive to TransCanada Energy and to reduce required setbacks from the rail line to only 7.5 metres.
On March 29, 2010
, Oakville Council votes unanimously to extend the Interim Control By-law that is blocking power plant applications.
The Premier gives an interview to news media saying a power plant must go ahead somewhere.
On March 30, 2010
, TransCanada appeals Oakville’s by-laws to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
We on Council authorize vigorous defence of our by-laws.
On March 30, 2010
, a train derails at the Pickering GO station. I issue a press release and call on the Canadian government to intervene to prevent siting a power plant on the most heavily used rail corridor in Canada,
to highlight the train derailment in Pickering. “One rail car stopped a few feet from cars parked at the Pickering GO station,” I say. “Fortunately, no one was hurt this time. I can’t help but think what would happen if a similar accident happens next to a major power plant… In light of the derailment of a CN train in Pickering yesterday, I renew my call for further assessment of the possibility of accidents resulting from the proposed TransCanada power plant being constructed seven metres from a major rail corridor used by CN and GO Transit." The Federal Government declines to meet with us and does nothing.
On April 22, 2010 all political parties in the Ontario Legislature vote for Bill 8, The Separation Distances for Natural Gas Power Plants Act, 2010, a Private Members Bill by Oakville MPP Kevin Flynn.
On April 22, 2010
, Oakville MP Terence Young publishes a column in the Beaver
calling for the Premier to move the power plant to Nanticoke and says, "The McGuinty government is spending $32.5 billion on infrastructure projects to get Ontario out of recession. The additional cost of transmission from Nanticoke could easily be considered one additional project...."
In May 2010
, Council unanimously passes a ground-breaking new bylaw regulating the emission of deadly fine particulate matter (“PM2.5”). TransCanada Energy launches the first of several lawsuits against the Town to try to quash the Town’s protective by-laws.In May 2010, TransCanada quietly tells the provincial government it does not believe it can defeat Oakville's Interim Control By-law and Oakville's Health Protection Air Quality By-law and appeals for help. (Click to read testimony under oath at Queen's Park hearings.)
In June 2010
, TransCanada launches a lawsuit against the Health Protection Air Quality By-law.
On June 24, 2010
, the air quality report and action plan by David Balsille, PhD, appears, recommending against the power plant or any other new sources of pollution in Oakville’s air shed.
On September 27, 2010
, Council unanimously passes ground-breaking new Official Plan amendments and Zoning By-law amendments that I call the “do-no-harm” clauses. These protect against the negative impacts of power plant operations anywhere in Oakville.
At the September 27, 2010
Council meeting for our "do-no-harm" amendments to our Official Plan, Ward 4 Councillors Allan Elgar and Roger Lapworth are shocked when Lee St. James, President of the Oakville PC Riding Association and Campaign Manager for the Oakville PC Candidate, Larry Scott, proposes putting the power plant in Ward 4.
Listen for yourself: click here to view the meeting on Town TV (fast-forward to 1:12:18)
On September 30, 2010
C4CA brings Erin Brockovich
to Oakville to raise awareness.On October 7, 2010 the provincial government cancels the TransCanada gas plant at Ford.
In October 2010
, at a victory rally C4CA president Frank Clegg says, "Also I want to call out Mayor Burton and town council. I want to talk about the work that they did in terms of addressing the health and safety issues and the leadership that they showed. I really hope that all the work that they've done in the planning and the by-laws they put in place will stand the test of time. I thank you very much on behalf of the community, for standing up, being tough, and showing us amazing leadership."
He also says, "In addition to the work the town is doing we believe there are a total of 11 law suits from TransCanada and Ford trying to tear down the by-laws, trying to tear down some of the work the committee of adjustment's done, so C4CA is going to do whatever we can to support the town in their efforts. We believe that these are good by-laws, we believe that they protect the health and the safety and our environment, and we're going to continue to do whatever we can to fight like hell with the town as a citizens group to make sure those by-laws are upheld."
On September 25, 2012
, Premier McGuinty visits Oakville for a press conference on power plant cancellation costs and meets with C4CA and other town leaders who thank him for cancelling the power plant. The Premier says MPP Flynn was pivotal in making him decide to cancel the power plant by frequently pointing out it would be closer to homes and schools than the government allows wind turbines to be.
On October 15, 2012
, Premier McGuinty resigns and suspends the legislative session until a new leader can be chosen.
On December 17, 2012
, TransCanada signs a deal with the OPA to build and operate a gas-fired generating station near Kingston that was originally planned for Oakville. The 900-megawatt facility will be located near Ontario Power Generation’s Lennox Generating Station property in Napanee instead of Oakville, a move the Liberal government said would cost taxpayers $40 million.
On March 19, 2013
the legislative committee conducting hearings into the cancellations of the Oakville and Mississauga power plants hears my testimony that we follow the given planning and other laws and rules of the province to block the power plant and are relieved when the Oakville project is cancelled. I point out all three political parties promise to kill the power plant during the fight and ask them how their cancellation costs would be different.On March 21, 2013 Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion at the legislative committee blasts the Liberals for waiting too long to cancel a plant that was under construction across from Sherway Gardens mall, near a hospital and a creek.Then she accuses Progressive Conservative and New Democrat MPPs of playing “political games” over the politically motivated decisions to scrap the plants in Mississauga and Oakville at a cost of at least $230 million to taxpayers.
“I don’t know why you’re wasting a lot of time at Queen’s Park in what, in my opinion, is deadwood,” she chastises, as the room falls silent.
With pressing issues like persistent unemployment, traffic gridlock and the need for more transit, McCallion urges MPPs to “get on with the work of the province.”
“The people are fed up with the political games at Queen’s Park” with pursuit of details like which politician or bureaucrats sent emails on the cancellations,” she adds. “Is that important? I don’t think it is. . . . How much do you want to know to waste time at Queen’s Park?”
On March 26, 2013
, the Premier's Principal Secretary, Jamison Steeve, testifies to the Legislative committee
that five months before the government cancelled the Oakville power plant, TransCanada told the government they could not defeat Oakville's by-laws against the power plant site application, which had already been upheld by the Ontario Municipal Board as exactly the right thing at exactly the right time for exactly the right reasons.
He testifies that the government would have had to over-rule the Oakville by-laws to let TransCanada proceed there.
On April 12, 2013
, Mrs. Mulvale publishes a letter in the Beaver saying “many believe” TransCanada could have been prevented with a "just say no" approach and “many believe” that I and Kevin Flynn had supported it “until the people rose up.”I’m sure Mrs. Mulvale’s mistaken claims are not the result of a dishonest nature, just an unavoidable result of the fact that Mrs. Mulvale takes no part at all in the power plant battle, contributes absolutely nothing to the victory, and so has no idea what it takes to win this battle.
Everyone would do well to remember it is Mrs. Mulvale who tells us when she serves as mayor (1988-2006) that we cannot possibly save the 900 hectares of green space in North Oakville because the developers always take the Town to the OMB and the Town always loses.
But we win that fight, in 2008, after I become Mayor in December 2006. And we go on to create a further 480 square km municipal greenbelt across half of Halton on top of the 9 square km greenspace we save in North Oakville.
2013 tax change just 1.47%
Getting rate of tax changes under control -
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
We got tax changes under control while catching up on missing community facilities by adopting modern business management tools called "Performance Based Program Budgeting" (PB2), also called Budgeting for Outcomes. Council sets limits for spending and funds are allocated on a priority basis to Council's objectives.
The total property tax levy rose an average of 7% a year from 2002 to 2006, former mayor Mrs. Mulvale's last four years in office. (From 1988 to 2006, her 18 years in office as mayor, the total property tax levy rose an average of almost 12% a year, and so did the town-only portion of the levy!
) In my first term as mayor, from 2006 to 2010, we held increases to the total property tax levy to an average of 5% a year. In this term as your mayor, from 2010 to 2014, we are holding increases to the total property tax levy to an average of less than 3% a year.
I became Mayor at the end of 2006. I've worked hard with Council to make the Town more efficient so we could get tax changes under control without cutting the programs and services Oakville residents need and want.
We create efficiencies everywhere we can to be able to increase attention to other areas that need it, while still controlling tax increases. Residents tell me they like the way we haven't cut valued services and programs in creating our 7%-5%-3% direction for average annual total tax levy increases each term.
Click to see this newspaper story for more: Council hands budget job to Adams, again
As I said in that article, "So 7-5-3 is a terrific direction. I think on council we feel that is a direction we want to keep going in. The feedback I get from the public is they really appreciate that direction and they don’t want us to change that direction.”
"The Town’s most recent budget saw a 1.47 per cent hike to residents’ 2013 property taxes after a 3 per cent hike to the Town’s base budget was blended with Halton Region’s 1.1 per cent increase and no hike to education rates for 2013."
“We are providing the services and facilities that Oakville voted for by a wide margin and Oakville expects us to deliver that. We do that with unrelenting pursuit of value,” I said when we passed the 2013 budget.
“This budget is the best we’ve done on the tax control front with no cuts to services or facilities, but rather increases.”
Burton said the future would see the Town focus on asset performance, the building of three million square feet of office development in Midtown, Burloak, North Service Road and the Life Sciences Business Park (generating 15,000 jobs), and the growth of the economy through business with China.