Natural gas report puts onus on province, feds to finance project
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Kincardine council, along with its counterparts in Huron-Kinloss and
Arran-Elderslie, held closed-door meetings Monday (Aug. 25), to receive
a report prepared by the legal counsel and consultant team regarding
the feasibility of extending natural gas distribution services to these
Following an extensive in-camera session Monday afternoon, the Municipality of Kincardine sent out a press release, stating that the detailed report considers a wide range of issues related to the natural gas project, including the results of customer surveys which were conducted in all three communities earlier this summer.
"Two specific options to provide gas services are assessed in the report: a proposal by Union Gas to connect the communities to its existing system located to the north and south of the municipalities; and a second proposal, called the “Northern Cross Option,” which would convert and expand upon an existing natural gas gathering system in the area into a gas distribution network jointly owned by the three municipalities," states the release.
A central finding of the report is that provincial and/or federal government financial assistance and changes to existing Ontario regulatory requirements are likely necessary to make the options economically-viable or to mitigate various risks associated with the creation of a new natural gas utility, the release states.
"In 2013, Ontario released its latest Long-Term Energy Plan for the province which included a commitment to work with municipalities to pursue options to expand natural gas infrastructure to service more communities in rural and northern Ontario.
"As part of its platform during the recent provincial election, the Ontario Liberal Party pledged to expand access to natural gas services with $200-million over two years for a Natural Gas Access Loan and $15-million in each of 2015-16 and 2016-17 for a Natural Gas Economic Development Grant."
According to the press release, the report recommends that the municipalities commence discussions with provincial and federal government officials with a view to establishing an approach and means to secure expanded gas services in the area. It is expected these discussions will commence later this fall.
"The issue is simple," said Kincardine mayor Larry Kraemer said. "Our communities need natural gas. We will continue to face economic disadvantages without it. The report presented today is a clear signal to the provincial and federal governments that our councils have taken this issue very seriously.
"We have done our homework and we now have a much clearer picture of what it will take to bring gas to our residents and businesses. We need the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada to step up to make this happen.”
"It is very important to us that members of the public have access to the report," said Huron-Kinloss mayor Mitch Twolan. "Once our advisors incorporate the councils’ feedback into the report, it will be finalized and released to the public. We expect this will happen before the end of September.”
"We have already held some discussions with our residents about extending gas services," said Arran-Elderslie mayor Paul Eagleson. "The report allows us to take this public consultation to the next level.
"There will be more opportunities to meet with, and receive the input, of the public in the weeks and months ahead. We intend to post the full report and supporting documents on the Internet so that everyone will have easy access to these materials. Information about new developments will also be posted on-line to keep everyone up-to-date.”
The press release states that, further to the release issued June 14, the three municipalities will provide answers to questions listed in that release in the near future. However, in the interim, "we would like to confirm that municipalitiesdo not have the authority to compel anyone to connect to the natural gas system."
BACKGROUND AND TIMELINE FOR THE NATURAL GAS PROJECT
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Monday, August 25, 2014