The "not in my backyard" syndrome that has created roadblocks for new energy projects will no longer be tolerated by the Ontario government, Premier Dalton McGuinty warned Tuesday as he pitched his proposed Green Energy Act.
McGuinty told the London Chamber of Commerce the legislation will include provisions to stop special interest groups or municipal governments from trying to block green energy projects for anything other than safety or environmental concerns.
"We're going to find a way through this new legislation to make it perfectly clear that NIMBYism will no longer prevail when it comes to putting up wind turbines, solar panels and bio-fuel plants," he told the business audience.
"We need those jobs. We need clean electricity, and we need to assume our full responsibility in the face of climate change."
McGuinty said the provincial government is hoping to create 50,000 new jobs from green energy projects, adding he's convinced Ontario residents want those jobs in their communities, which means being a willing host to giant wind turbines or solar-panel farms.
"Our new law will uphold rigorous safety and environmental standards, but once those standards have been met, we intend to assert the greater public interest in clean, green electricity and the jobs that come with it," he said.
"Municipalities will no longer be able to reject wind turbines, solar panels or bio-fuel plants because they don't like them. We can't allow interests to oppose these simply because they don't like them."
McGuinty admitted he included the tough talk on green energy projects because of a situation in London, where officials at a sports facility are objecting to the building of a new bio-fuel generating station next door.
He said there are similar situations in his hometown of Ottawa and other communities across Ontario — communities that are also crying out for new jobs.
"Rejection can only be based on a failure to meet safety and environmental standards," McGuinty said.
"As a society, as an economy, either we're committed to clean, green jobs or we're not. I say we are, and we'll take the necessary steps to ensure we move in that direction."
However, McGuinty wouldn't say what "hammer" the government would use to force people to accept new energy projects in their area, saying that would have to wait until the legislation is introduced.
The premier said the bill, to be introduced later this month, would also elevate the importance of energy efficiency in Ontario's building code. The legislation will also expand Ontario's use of clean and renewable sources of energy and help combat climate change.
There have been few details about how the Green Energy Act will help the province meet its goal of creating 50,000 new jobs.