Bill 51, an Act to amend the Planning Act and the Conservation Land Act and to make related amendments to other Acts, received second reading in the Legislature on April 26, 2006. The Bill, as drafted, may have wide implications for the energy industry.
As proposed, section 23 of the Bill (Section 62.0.1 of the proposed Act) will allow the Lieutenant Governor in Council by regulation, to exempt undertakings that relate to energy and have been approved or exempted under the Environmental Assessment Act from Planning Act approvals. Typical Planning Act approvals that may be required for development projects include Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments and site plan approval. While the latter approval is a private matter between a developer and a municipality and only in rare cases have private parties been made parties to appeals to the Ontario Municipal Board, appeals against local council decisions approving Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments are routinely considered by the Ontario Municipal Board, which introduces both uncertainty and time delay into the approvals process.
The proposed exemption from local land use approvals is reminiscent of provisions that remain in many municipal Official Plans and Zoning By-laws that exempt various government bodies and the former Ontario Hydro from compliance with these documents. Given that Ontario Regulation 116/01 made under the Environmental Assessment Act for Electricity Projects levelled the field for all proponents of energy projects with respect to environmental assessment requirements, the time might be right to reinstate the exemption on a broader basis. The extent to which the government is concerned about energy supply shortages will be reflected by the scope of the exemption provisions in the regulations, which have not yet been released in draft form.
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Canada is a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary democracy and a federation comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Canada's judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of Government.
The Government of Alberta recently announced a number of policy changes that will impact the Alberta Electricity Market, composed of its generators, transmitters, distributors, retailers, electricity consumers and wholesale electricity market.
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