In what many in the community are hoping will be the first in a series of steps in the right direction, the Ontario government has given its blessing to a $360-million power from natural gas project on a 12-acre part of the Lambton Generating Station property in Courtright.
The announcement, made Tuesday, gets the government out of hot water it entered when before the provincial election last fall, it withdrew its support for a similar project in Mississauga.
That was on the heels of community protests in the area.
The decision to move the project to Lambton, at the same time paying developer/operator Greenfield South Power Corporation for losses it incurred in the Mississauga deal, is being welcomed by local officials, notably for the 200 construction jobs it represents.
Only about 25 people will work at the facility when it is expected to begin operations in 2017.
George Mallay, general manager of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, was one of those heralding the news. “Our area accepts and welcomes these kinds of projects,” Mallay has been quoted as saying.
The news doesn't affect the scheduled closing of the Lambton Generating Station but Ontario energy minister Chris Bentley said the area's willingness to host a natural gas plant helped seal the deal.
In fact, Lambton County's enthusiasm is nearly polar opposite to the opposition expressed by Mississauga.
The Liberals acquiescence came at the cost of $180 million, the price to settle financial issues around moving the project to Lambton, including goods and services already used at the previous site.
Steve Arnold, who is both mayor of St. Clair Township and warden of Lambton County, is said to have expressed his support directly to Chris Bentley.
But Arnold has been quoted as saying he still hopes LGS is converted to run on natural gas.
The Ontario government remains uncommitted to that course of action.