In­crea­sed ac­cess to na­tu­ral gas is ano­ther “hot” elec­tion is­sue

Le Reflet (The News) - - ACTUALITÉS • NEWS - GREGG CHAMBERLAIN gregg.chamberlain@eap.on.ca

A pro­mise for in­crea­sed ac­cess to na­tu­ral gas as an al­ter­na­tive hea­ting source could be one way to se­cure the “farm vote” in Glen­gar­ry-Pres­cott-Rus­sell in the June pro­vin­cial elec­tion this year.

Réjean Pom­main­ville, dis­trict 14 re­gio­nal di­rec­tor for the On­ta­rio Far­mers As­so­cia­tion (OFA), confir­med du­ring a phone in­ter­view Fe­brua­ry 12 that na­tu­ral gas would be a big be­ne­fit to the economic sur­vi­val of far­ming for the re­gion and for all of On­ta­rio.

“We (OFA) have been pu­shing for that for quite a few years,” Pom­main­ville said. “We be­lieve that if far­mers had ac­cess to na­tu­ral gas, they’d be able to com­pen­sate for other (ope­ra­ting) ex­penses.”

Cur­rent­ly ma­ny farm ope­ra­tions in the GPR and other ru­ral ri­dings in On­ta­rio are li­mi­ted to ei­ther elec­tri­ci­ty or hea­ting oil to keep barns, co­ops, and other out­buil­dings warm for li­ve­stock du­ring the win­ter sea­son. The price for ei­ther hea­ting source has conti­nued to rise des­pite ei­ther go­vern­ment re­gu­la­tion ef­forts or changes in world sup­ply sources.

Pom­main­ville no­ted that Al­ber­ta’s agri­cul­ture sec­tor has al­most 100 per cent ac­cess to na­tu­ral gas as part of the ener­gy hea­ting op­tions for farm ope­ra­tions. In On­ta­rio, he said, maybe 20 per cent of the pro­vince’s far­ming com­mu­ni­ty has na­tu­ral gas ac­cess as a pos­sible chea­per hea­ting op­tion. “That would make a big dif­fe­rence to all On­ta­rio far­mers if they could have na­tu­ral gas,” he said.

Pom­main­ville ad­ded that na­tu­ral gas ac­cess could prove a fac­tor that helps gua­ran­tee the sur­vi­val of On­ta­rio’s far­ming sec­tor. “If a ru­ral area is pros­pe­rous,” he said, “the whole pro­vince will be pros­pe­rous.”

Grant Crack, the in­cumbent Li­be­ral MPP for Glen­gar­ry-Pres­cott-Rus­sell, agreed dur- ing a recent in­ter­view that na­tu­ral gas ac­cess is one of the im­por­tant lo­cal economic de­ve­lop­ment is­sues for the ri­ding. He no­ted that the Wynne Li­be­ral go­vern­ment has made a com­mit­ment to in­crease na­tu­ral gas ac­cess for Eas­tern On­ta­rio and other ru­ral re­gions.

“The (ener­gy) mi­nis­try is well aware that in East Haw­kes­bu­ry, they would en­joy ha­ving na­tu­ral gas,” Crack said. “There are dis­cus­sions un­der­way with En­bridge (Na­tu­ral Gas) for a prac­ti­cal bu­si­ness case. But there al­so has to be some (pro­fi­table) re­turn to En­bridge, and that our own in­vest­ments are al­so pro­tec­ted.’

We al­so tried to reach Aman­da Si­mard, Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive can­di­date for Glen­gar­ry-Pres­cott-Rus­sell, for her pers­pec­tive on this is­sue. Un­for­tu­na­te­ly, we had not heard back from her by press time.

—pho­to d’ar­chives

Les agri­cul­teurs ai­me­raient avoir ac­cès au gaz na­tu­rel comme so­lu­tion de re­change à l’élec­tri­ci­té ou au ma­zout pour chauf­fer leurs granges, leurs pou­laillers et autres dé­pen­dances. L’ac­cès au gaz na­tu­rel pour les agri­cul­teurs pour­rait être un en­jeu...

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