Oakville mayor says cost of cancelled gas plant less than health, safety costs

Rob Burton says gas plant within 3,000 metres of homes, schools made no sense.

TORONTO – Oakville Mayor Rob Burton says no other community should have to face the threat his city did from a proposed gas-fired electrical generating station near homes and schools.

Burton told a legislature committee today that it made no sense to put a gas plant within 1,500 metres of 3,000 homes, nine schools, a hospital, a long-term care home and the QEW highway.

The government has said it cost $40 million to cancel the Oakville project, while an energy expert told the committee the real cost was likely 15 times that amount.

Burton told the committee that whatever the actual cost turns out to be, it’ll be “far less than the health, environmental and safety costs” would have been in Oakville.

Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli admitted for the first time earlier this week that the estimated $40 million cost for cancelling the Oakville plant “could be wrong.”

The Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats have always disputed the figure, especially after the Liberals said it cost $190 million to scrap another gas plant in neighbouring Mississauga.

The justice committee is investigating all aspects surrounding the decisions to cancel the gas plants to help save Liberal seats in the communities west of Toronto.

The Tories hope to find out more about what they say was political interference in the gas plant decisions when Ontario Power Authority executive JoAnne Butler testifies, along with former cabinet secretary Peter Wallace.

“Her emails indicated a growing alarm in the public sector about political interference in the gas plant issue, that basically high levels of the Liberal party or government were intervening in gas plant decisions by the bureaucracy,” said PC Leader Tim Hudak. “We plan on asking Ms. Butler more questions about that.”

The Liberals will call Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion this week to talk about how unpopular the planned gas plant was in her city.

©The Canadian Press