A Port Hope-area farmer says he was lied to by Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party, claiming that the party promised to get rid of an unwanted solar project in his community during last year’s election campaign.
John Kordas lives on a property in Campbellcroft, Ont., and insisted that during the provincial election campaign he and other residents were assured by the PCs that a solar project in the community would be cancelled as part of the party’s pledge to rip up bad green energy projects.
“For the last 10 months, we have been given assurances upon assurances that this project would be cancelled and, well, we took them on good faith,” Kordas said.
Solar panels are being installed on a property next to Kordas’ farm as part of a project called Renesola GreenLife Solar Project #19. Kordas says it’s being constructed on protected land earmarked for farm use.
“Why squander prime agricultural farmland, the best farmland in West Northumberland or in any part of Ontario?” he said.
Local PC MPP David Piccini visited Kordas last month and says he’s spoken to the farmer numerous times to explain the government’s position.
“We are looking at every tool at our disposal to challenge this, but this was a done deal prior to us forming government,” Piccini explained.
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Because the energy contract for the project has passed a “milestone,” Piccini says it can’t simply be ripped up.
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In a statement to Global News, Energy Minister Greg Rickford said the government’s hands are tied.
“The Renesola GreenLife Solar Project #19 was a deal made by the previous government. Like many wasteful energy projects created through the Liberals’ Green Energy Act, supported by the NDP, this project was forced on the community with little to no consultation.”
Caroline Thornton with the Port Hope Citizens’ Association says the government could back out of the contract if they wanted to, however she believes Rickford is hesitant because it could lead to other contract disputes similar to Solar Project #19.
“Prime land is being taken away by developers, by commercial interests, by wind farms, by all kinds of nefarious undertakings that literally are destroying the land on which our crops are grown,” said Thornton.
She says residents like Kordas and herself are not opposed to all solar energy projects but insists that they need to be situated properly and that the community needs to be consulted.
“They might be great for the environment in some contexts. They should be put on roofs of buildings in urban areas, where the density of the population and the demand for electricity and power is very high,” she added.
Thornton also says the economic benefit of the project to the Campbellcroft area will be minimal.
“It’s a tiny project on a large piece of land that will feed virtually a fraction, a tiny, tiny amount of energy into this community,” Thornton said. “It isn’t going to make the slightest economic sense to put this project in place, but at the end of the day, little projects like this destroy the land around them.”
Kordas says he hopes Piccini will be able to convince the provincial government to rip up the contract and warns that if the PCs don’t honour the commitment he says they made, he’ll be voting for another party in the next election.
“If Premier Ford has any aspirations of being a two-term premier, I think this would be a good starting point to listen to the people,” he said.