The Regional Municipality of York is located immediately north of the City of Toronto. It is the fastest growing municipality in Ontario. The rapid expansion of residential, industrial and commercial development in the municipality has led to a weakness in the electrical and gas infrastructure. The Ontario Power Authority (the agency responsible for managing the power requirements in the Province of Ontario) has recognized this weakness and has developed plans calling for a new gas-fired generating station and improvements to the electrical grid. The shortages of gas supply and electricity have not developed overnight. Hydro One, which runs the electrical grid, initiated a supply study in 2002. The study recommended upgrading a 115 kV transmission line to a double circuit 230 kV transmission line on the existing corridor. The ensuing public outcry resulted in the municipality passing a resolution against the upgrade. Similarly, a large gas-fired generating station proposal was abandoned as the result of citizen opposition. In 2003, the Ontario Energy Board approved new Environmental Guidelines for the Location, Construction and Operation of Hydrocarbon Pipelines and Facilities in Ontario. The guidelines include specific new requirements for planning pipelines in urban areas. Among other things, these requirements involve the identification of indirectly affected landowners and a more detailed analysis of public issues and how they were resolved. It became clear that in order to achieve regulatory success, not only would the public have to become actively engaged in the decision-making early in the process, the technical reviewers (federal, provincial and municipal agencies) would likewise have to be actively involved. Through the use of two case studies of proposed large-diameter natural gas pipelines initiated in York Region in 2005, this paper describes the techniques used to engage the public and the regulators. It also describes how the public involvement requirements contained in the Ontario Energy Board’s new guidelines were incorporated into the planning process. The case studies begin with a rationale for the study area selected. A description of issues follows. The techniques used to address these issues and the success of the program are documented. Techniques include face-to-face project initiation meetings, use of technical and citizens’ advisory committees, sub-committee meetings to resolve specific issues and site-specific field work. The study results illustrate that it is possible to plan a right-of-way in such a manner as to satisfy the general public and regulators, be compatible with existing development, conform to the new Ontario Energy Board guidelines and minimize the amount of remedial work required to mitigate the impacts occurring on and adjacent to the right-of-way.

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