Bye bye bioheat
By Chad Ingram
Published July 26, 2018
To his credit, Premier Doug Ford, in the short time since he became leader of the province in early June, has made good or started making good on a number of his election promises.
These include the ouster of the Hydro One board of directors and CEO, rescinding the province’s sex ed curriculum, and scrapping Ontario’s cap-and-trade system.
(It should be noted I’m not saying all these things are positive, just acknowledging that Ford is doing the things he said he would do.)
By doing away with the cap-and-trade system, the government is also doing away with the green energy programs that were funded by it. This has already had a direct impact in Haliburton County, where a number of planned bioheat projects will not proceed, which is unfortunate for the community.
It was announced in the spring that the Municipality of Dysart et al would receive nearly $3 million from the Municipal Greenhouse Gas Challenge Fund. That grant was essentially the municipality’s equity in the project, which was to be a public/private partnership. There is no way that Dysart or any of the other small municipalities in the area can cough up that kind of cash for such a project.
While Ford’s repeated promises to kill cap and trade made it clear that a number of green energy programs could be in jeopardy should he win, in the case of Dysart, the contract had already been signed and money had already begun flowing. While no physical construction work had begun (that was scheduled for the fall), a board of directors had been formed, a utility incorporated and engineer hired.
A district energy system in Haliburton Village would have lowered heating costs for business owners. A cluster of district systems in the area (there was one proposed for Minden, two in Highlands East and a number in Muskoka) would have created a number of good-paying jobs. The use of wood chips from Haliburton Forest would have given a large local employer a nearby market for its scrap wood. All of these things would have created and kept more revenue in the county.
The bioheat projects were also an opportunity for small communities in the area to become showpieces for what is still an emerging technology in most of Canada. It was an opportunity to demonstrate that small communities can do big things. It’s now an opportunity lost.