When the people rise up
Oakville defeats danger…
2010 U.S. power plant explosion kills 6, injures 50
This timeline is dedicated to all who defended Oakville against the greatest threat we ever faced. If we're ever threatened again, you'll need to know how it was really done. — Rob Burton
➤ 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
. Rob asks 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 Rob's criticism, says, "The OPA is not in the business of protecting the environment."
➤ In February 2009
, at Rob's request, Council passes unanimous resolutions warning Oakville of the danger of a power plant.
➤ In March 2009
, at Rob's request, Council adopts an Interim Control By-law to block applications for power plants.
Mississauga residents form MIRANET
(Click for larger view)
➤ On Mar 12, 2009
, meanwhile, in Mississauga, "at an Ontario Municipal Board hearing yesterday, the City of Mississauga provided evidence that it has made appropriate changes to its bylaws, as ordered by the OMB in 2007. As a result, Eastern has all the requisite approvals to build its Greenfield South power plant on Loreland Ave., south of Dundas St. E. and beside Etobicoke Creek," the Mississauga News reports. Citizen opposition eventually leads to a link up between Oakville and Mississauga for mutual assistance and support.
Mississauga residents associations (MIRANET) assembles a website that tracks every step of their fight.
➤ In March 2009
, Rob becomes 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 Rob asks the head of Ford about their activities. Ford denies marketing Ford land to the power companies.
➤ In April 2009
, Ford and TransCanada appeal Rob's Interim Control By-law to the Ontario Municipal Board
➤ In July 2009
, Rob calls together the leaders of all the residents groups in Oakville and begins a community leaders roundtable at the end of every month to raise community awareness.
(It continues to this day.)
➤ On July 28, 2009
, almost 1,000 residents join Rob and other officials at a rally put together by the Chartwell-Maple Grove, Clearview, Joshua Creek and Southeast Oakville Residents’ Associations, at the Chisholm Educational Centre, on Cornwall Rd where Rob pledges we will defeat the power plant
. (Click here for another news story
➤ In summer 2009
, Rob hears from a source that the provincial government is promising Ford that Ford will get the power plant
➤ In August 2009
, Rob and Councillor Tom Adams meet with the Premier to protest Oakville even being considered as a location. The Premier 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.
OPA chooses bid closest to homes
(Click map for larger view)
➤ On September 30, 2009, the OPA chooses the Ford site for the power plant and selects TransCanada to build it.
➤ On October 2, 2009
, the first editorial against the power plant appears in the Oakville Beaver noting that the site chosen on the Ford lands was the closest to homes of the four candidate sites.
People rise up and form C4CA
(Click to visit C4CA web site)
➤ In October 2009
, people begin to rise up and C4CA (Citizens 4 Clean Air) forms. Council and Rob welcome them to the battle against the power plant. C4CA play a crucial role in our eventual victory.
➤ On On October 23, 2009
, the second editorial against the power plant appears in the Oakville Beaver demanding the OPA justify the selection of a location so close to homes. It ends with the words, "The OPA cannot build this plant against our will without explaining why the TransCanada site was chosen. We demand an answer. We have the right to know."
➤ On December 4, 2009
, the Ontario Municipal Board upholds Rob's Interim Control By-law. The OMB says Rob did exactly the right thing at exactly the right time and for exactly the right reasons.
Explosion kills 6 at power plant, injures 50
(Click photo for larger view)
➤ On February 8, 2010
, a 620 MW gas-fired power plant outside Middletown, Connecticut, explodes, killing six and injuring 50.
The closest homes are one mile away. The explosion blows out windows in a hospital 4 miles away.
➤ On February 10, 2010
, the third editorial against the power plant appears in the Oakville Beaver, saying, "We believe this risk is too great and plead with the Province to rethink this plan. No matter what safeguards are put in place, no one can guarantee that the explosion in Middletown can’t happen in Oakville. To continue down this path of putting a gas-fired power plant in a densely populated area like Oakville is pure folly."
➤ On February 17, 2010
, the fourth editorial against the power plant appears in the Oakville Beaver, saying, "Middletown, however, proved that accidents do happen. We stand beside the residents of Oakville and members of Town Council in this fight to bring common sense back to Queen’s Park."
➤ On February 24, 2010
, MPP Ted Chudleigh (who represents a riding that includes Oakville north of Upper Middle Road) announces a petition calling for the McGuinty government to reconsider the decision to build a gas-fired power station on Royal Windsor Drive, "especially in light of the recent power station explosion in Connecticut, is ludicrous due to its proximity to numerous schools and homes.
C4CA Queens Park Rally
(Click photo for larger view).
➤ 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.
Rob accuses Ford of bringing TransCanada to Oakville from the Etobicoke site TransCanada had been planning to use.
➤ 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 10, 2010
, the fifth editorial against the power plant appears in the Oakville Beaver, saying, "We are on record as opposing the TransCanada power plant because of its location and safety concerns for the community."
(The article also opposes Oakville's new Health Protection Air Quality By-law.)
➤ 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. Rob issues a press release and calls 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,” Rob says. “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, Rob renews his 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 Rob 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.
MPP Ted Chudleigh attacks Bill 8 for not being strong enough.
➤ 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 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 June 29, 2010
, the sixth editorial against the power plant appears in the Oakville Beaver, saying, "We can only hope that the Province will finally see the light, admit its mistake, and follow the advice of its own task force (to not build the power plant). If it ignores this advice, we can’t help but wonder, “What does it take?”
➤ On August 25, 2010
, the seventh editorial against the power plant appears in the Oakville Beaver, saying, after Oakville MPP Kevin Flynn is left out of a Cabinet shuffle, "From what we’ve witnessed over the years, as an Oakville councillor and MPP, Flynn has been approachable, knowledgeable, a tireless worker and not afraid to speak his mind. Which makes us wonder whether the latter quality may have caused him to be ignored in the latest Cabinet shuffle."
➤ On September 24, 2010
, the eighth editorial against the power plant appears in the Oakville Beaver, saying, "So why risk it? Why place the largest gas-fueled power plant in Ontario in such a highly-populated area? Why not place the plant in an area where even if that once-in-a-several-hundred-million-years accident does occur, it would cause as little damage as possible?"
➤ On September 27, 2010
, Council unanimously passes ground-breaking new Official Plan amendments and Zoning By-law amendments that Rob calls 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.
Councillors cheer power plant move
(Click photo for larger view).
➤ On October 7, 2010 the provincial government cancels the TransCanada gas plant at Ford.
➤ On October 7, 2010
, Mississauga Ward 1 Councillor Carmen Corbasson responds to the Oakville cancellation by demanding the same for the Mississauga power plant: "This site is even closer to residential and sensitive land uses. Given the reasons by Minister Duguid that "a transmission solution can ensure that the growing region will have enough electricity…" and that there have been "changes in supply and demand", I fully expect that the next announcement will be to cancel the Loreland contract for the same reasons."
➤ On October 8, 2010
, the ninth editorial against the power plant appears in the Oakville Beaver, saying, "Finally, we have to thank the Province of Ontario for listening and finally admitting — albeit grudgingly — that it was wrong. Yes, it has tried to sugarcoat this flip-flop by saying it rechecked the books and discovered the power plant isn’t needed, but few people are buying that explanation. At this point, we really don’t care why the McGuinty government cancelled the power plant. We’re just glad it did."
C4CA lawn signs say Thank You!
(Click for larger view)
➤ On October 11, 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."
Clegg 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 January 7, 2011
, TransCanada withdraws its court challenges against Oakville's by-laws.
➤ On September 24, 2011
, Geoff Janoscik, the PC candidate in Mississauga South, makes this promise about the Mississauga power plant, "A Tim Hudak Government will cancel this plant."
The PC promise matches a Liberal promise made earlier the same day.
➤ On September 25, 2011
, PC leader Tim Hudak says the Oakville power plant cancellation "cost $1 billion" and suggests the Mississauga power plant cancellation "may cost another $1 billion"
Hudak pledges to cancel power plant too
(Click image to view)
➤ On October 5, 2011
, on the day before the Provincial election, in front of the still under construction Mississauga power plant, PC leader Tim Hudak promises to stop the power plant if he wins the election
, after only days before warning that he's sure it "may cost another $1 billion". Later, in 2013, he insists it was irresponsible for then Premier McGuinty to have cancelled it "without knowing what it would cost", even though it cost far less than Hudak says he thinks it will cost when he himself promises in 2011 to cancel it. This is a new height in hypocrisy, even for him.
➤ On November 22, 2011
, the PC energy critic, Vic Fedelli, alleges moving the Mississauga power plant will cost $1 billion.
(The provincial Auditor General on April 15, 2013 reports the costs to be $275 million.)
➤ On November 25, 2011
, the Globe and Mail says, "Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said he too would cancel the [Sherway] project and that his party has opposed the projects in Oakville and Mississauga all along."
➤ 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.
TransCanada pays Hudaks $40,900
(Couple makes out financially on Oakville power plant.)
➤ On October 15, 2012
, the Toronto Sun reports "The wife of Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak was working for TransCanada Energy’s Oakville gas plant even as the Tories were arguing to move the plant, recently released Ontario Power Authority documents show. Deb Hutton, a former senior advisor to Mike Harris when he was premier, was paid $40,900 from October 2009 to October 2010, when the Liberal government abruptly cancelled the plant to appease local opposition."
➤ On December 17, 2012
, TransCanada signs a deal with the OPA to build and operate a gas-fired generating station outside Napanee 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 Rob's 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. Rob points out all three political parties promise to kill the power plant during the fight and asks them how their cancellation costs would be different.
Awkward silence is their only answer.
➤ 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 tells the government that 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, cannot be defeated.
Steeve 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 Rob and Kevin Flynn had supported it “until the people rose up.”Mrs. Mulvale’s false claims could only be the unavoidable result of the fact that Mrs. Mulvale takes no part at all in the power plant battle (except to defend Ford from attacks for hosting the powerplant site)
In short, Mrs. Mulvale chooses to lie about it. No one believes her, and Mrs. Mulvale goes on to lose her election bid.
Mrs. Mulvale contributes absolutely nothing to the victory, has no role whatsoever in the fight, and never has any idea how to defeat the danger.
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 9 square kilometres of green space in North Oakville because the developers always take the Town to the OMB and the Town always loses.Rob focuses from the day he becomes mayor on seeing that as long as he's Oakville's mayor, no one can say Oakville "always loses". We win the green space fight to save a third of North Oakville, in 2008, after Rob becomes Mayor in December 2006. And we go on to create a further 500 square km municipal greenbelt across half of Halton on top of the 9 square km greenspace we save in North Oakville. We also win at the OMB and the Court of Appeal against Ford and TransCanada.
➤ On Oct. 8, 2013
, the Auditor General of Ontario publishes her report on the cost of the cancellation of the Oakville gas power plant. You can download it and read it for yourself here: Auditor General Report
You may want to consider carefully what the Auditor General says on Page 9 of the Report to understand who is responsible for this costly mistake:
"The OPA told bidders that municipal opposition to a power plant would not be considered in its evaluation of their proposals—As the OPA was aware, the Town of Oakville was very actively and publicly opposed to a power plant within its borders. Of the four developers the OPA had shortlisted in March 2009 to build a power plant for the Southwest Greater Toronto Area (Southwest GTA), only one, TCE, was proposing a plant in Oakville. Two months after issuing a Request for Proposals to the four developers, the OPA told them that it would consider only the municipal requirements in place in January 2009 when evaluating proposals. The OPA informed us that it did not want the actions taken by municipalities that knew a power plant might be built within their borders to affect the proponents’ submissions. In September 2009, with Oakville already having put a bylaw in place delaying the establishment of a power plant in the Town, the OPA awarded the contract to TCE.
You might want to consider if there is a better word than reckless
for the way the OPA conducted itself and favoured one bidder by trying to exempt it from the risk it faced to obtain municipal approvals. By reducing a bidder's risk, the OPA increased its own risk of having to compensate the bidder when it failed.And $40 million is what it cost taxpayers
, the Auditor General's Report says, as does the OPA. The rest of the AG Report's estimated costs ($635 million) or the rest of the OPA's estimated costs ($270 million) are spread over 20 years into the future and are paid in electricity rates.(The Auditor General and the OPA chose different dates for assuming future events and different discount rates for the calculation of present value/cost of the future events and costs. The OPA had used 6% for the discount rate and the Auditor General used 4%. The OPA discount rate gives $270 million for future costs and the AG discount rate gives $635 million. Spread over 20 years, the AG estimate is about 52 cents a month per customer and the OPA estimate is 22 cents.
➤ It's easy to regret there were any costs, but until the OPA method for conducting siting of new power plants is fixed, there's no protection from it happening again.
➤ As for Tim Hudak's theatrical display of fake outrage at the cost, there is no moral difference between his promising to cancel power plants while saying it would cost more than $2 billion, and the government's doing it for $1.2 billion. The only difference is the $800 million more he said he'd spend. (All of which is fully chronicled in this timeline.)
Of course, it takes a special kind of dishonesty for Mr. Hudak to protest any cost to taxpayers while not paying back the taxpayers for the $41,000 given to Mrs. Hudak by TransCanada for helping them.