Kawartha Lakes should support a healthy environment, not Enbridge

By Lindsay Advocate

By Moya Beall

Seniors for Climate Action Now – Kawarthas (SCAN)

When Enbridge Gas’s proposed Bobcaygeon gas expansion project was placed into abeyance by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) last October, Enbridge asked local residents to send letters expressing disappointment. It even provided a sample that could be copied. People on both sides of the issue sent letters. Kawartha Lakes, the city, was quick to oppose the delay. Its letter referred to city council’s first expression of support for gas service back in 2017.

Seniors for Climate Action Now – Kawarthas (SCAN) believes the city’s position is misguided and is calling on the municipality to instead ask the OEB to make the best decision in light of the necessary energy transition.

The OEB is Ontario’s independent energy regulator. It put the project on hold, pending review of a motion submitted by Environmental Defence. The OEB is just one of several government and regulatory bodies that has made recent hopeful progress by paying heed to the fact that we are in a critical decade when it comes to addressing the climate crisis. But action needs to happen at all levels of government.

There was also the recent climate deal from COP 28, the annual United Nations climate summit. Canada, along with 200 other countries agreed to language calling for “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade.” This was a first. Canada also signed on to a declaration calling for tripling of renewable energy around the globe and doubling energy efficiency by 2030. It signed another agreement calling on governments to protect communities from climate-related health impacts, such as extreme heat and air pollution.

Last December, the OEB made an important decision on Enbridge’s proposed provincial gas pipeline expansion plans. The OEB rejected the “business-as-usual” scenario proposed by Enbridge. It found that “…energy transition poses a risk that assets used to serve existing and new Enbridge Gas customers will become stranded because of the energy transition. Enbridge Gas has not provided an adequate assessment of this risk to demonstrate that its capital spending plan is prudent.”

The OEB’s ruling therefore eliminated the special deal that Enbridge and housing developers receive for connections to the gas system, effective January 2025. Gas customers currently pay an extra fee on their gas bill to cover the cost of connections. The amount is considerable, averaging $4,500 per house, paid over 40 years. These extra fees amount to about $250 million per year. Because they haven’t had to pay for the connections, developers have automatically included gas service in their developments. The OEB’s reasoning is that, “when a developer is faced with the full cost of including gas service in a development, that developer will be fully incented to choose the most cost effective, energy efficient choice.” The decision is good for existing gas customers, new home buyers, and the environment.

The connecting thread in both OEB decisions is the recognition of the energy transition and the need to make informed decisions. In its December decision, the OEB noted that “two important themes emerged during this proceeding: climate change policy is driving an energy transition that gives rise to a stranded asset risk, and the usual way of doing business is not sustainable.”

In the Bobcaygeon case, it appears that Environmental Defence wants to ensure that Enbridge’s expansion project is not simply a business-as-usual approach and that residents have access to accurate information about costs, efficiency and environmental impact of both gas and electric heat pumps. This is a legitimate concern, in light of the recent decision of  Canada’s Competition Bureau to investigate misleading claims that Enbridge made to residents of communities where it is expanding gas service.

It is discouraging that Kawartha Lakes was so quick to support Enbridge. The world has changed considerably since 2017. Since then, electric heat pumps have proved to be more efficient, less expensive and better for the environment. As well, there is a growing body of research on the adverse health impacts of gas stoves, particularly in children.

Why didn’t the city take the time to look into the matter before communicating with the OEB?  It is throwing away an opportunity to breathe life into the vision statement of its 2019 Healthy Environment Plan (HEP): “(W)e will be leaders in addressing our changing climate to ensure a healthy environment and a prosperous community.” The HEP also commits the city to “encourage developers to construct new builds that are energy efficient and climate resilient…with features such as: Building design that reduces energy demand and increases efficiency (e.g. passive cooling, air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps…”)

We hope that the city will adopt its leadership role and encourage the OEB to conduct a full airing of these issues. The transition to clean, renewable energy sources is imperative.


  1. Sherry Hillman says:

    Excellent and informative article. CKL Council should reconsider their support for Enbridge in keeping with their Healthy Environment Plan. We have an electric heat pump and can confidently and enthusiastically recommend them. Good for the environment and it has reduced our energy bill considerably.

  2. Karla Forgaard-Pullen says:

    Most of Council are too old, not necessarily informed, educated or able to believe how urgent climate action has become. Even with the evidence every day this winter in front of us, with the terrible fires of the past summer (it was only a bit smoky here, right?) too many here want to do business as usual, especially with the developers promising fat donations to local institutions.

    SCAN on one end and young people on the other are sounding the bells of alarm. Will Council, or any politician bound by currying favour for votes take a stand against fossil fuel development and for sustainable change? We won’t live to regret it, but our grandchildren will.

  3. David Rapaport says:

    Sometimes, in the depth of despair about the Climate Change crisis – yes it is real and it is growing – I wonder what can be done, even at the local level. What can be done that is within reach, possible and consequential? Moya Beall answers that question. We can make our mark in Kawartha Lakes by turning our backs on the Enbridge proposal in Bobcaygeon and start/continue our transition to renewables rather than resorting to carbon based energy sources.

  4. Anonymous says:

    What is the current heating system in the homes in Bobcaygeon that will have Natural Gas service available from Enbridge?
    Typically it’s home heating oil, and switching from an older oil furnace to a 95% high efficiency gas furnace would be an improvement in emissions.

    Electricity in Ontario experiences political disruption by elected leaders. I would not switch to fully electric home heating because the provincial premiers have a habit of mucking with Hydro One, gas plants, wind turbines, nuclear rebuilds, competative market and changing the economics all too frequently re the affordability of electricity.

    You just cant depend on what the electricity rates will be over the life of a heat pump/furnace.

  5. Wallace says:

    Ok , you brilliant environmental activists, what’s the alternative ? Windmills ?(lol) ….Solar ?(lol)… Your talk is virtuous, and non-stop. Your own personal actions, in the name of banning fossil fuels, are non-existent. What are the practical, viable alternatives that you use instead of fossil fuels ? This is what it all comes down to. Jumping on a band wagon and pretending to be outraged is easy. Stop the verbal ‘protesting’ and show us all what YOU do in your own personal lives to stop using fossil fuels, and perhaps the rest of us will follow your amazing example. I just hope you all realize that every human in Canada could cease to exist today, and it would not make a iota of difference in the CO2 emissions on earth. Your lives are too easy, because of fossil fuels. Perhaps you’ve become bored and restless like so many in the west. Go to a 3rd world country where they have little to no access to fossil fuels and live there. Enjoy.

  6. Dale Gillespie says:

    my question is how will the additional hydro (if that is the option to “fossil fuels”) be handled. With the growing population and required utilities for hydro, there will be an essential need for more and more power. Can the province supply all this and what other sources, as necessary are viable. Before raging about fossil fuels, some research needs to be done besides touting heat pumps and electric vehicles which will consume even more electricity. It is all well and good to “stop” using fossil fuels but what is being done to ensure a continuous supply of alternate power for heating, vehicles and all other uses of electricity in an ever increasing population demand.

    • Wayne says:

      We need more nuclear plants , but the same outraged people ,who hate fossil fuels , hate nuclear even more, even though its the safest , most reliable energy source on the planet.

  7. D'Arcy mcGee says:

    So happy to see fellow seniors so active in attempting to save the planet. It’s a nice fun cause to tsk tsk the big corporations & government, when we have so many other pressing issues in our society. Canada is hardly the country to “lead the way” in the so called climate crisis. Were we to disappear tomorrow ,there would be no appreciable impact on CO2 emissions in the world. We at least, are making an effort whereas the huge emitters continue along their merry way. Perhaps we should all stop buying products from the China & India’s of this world ,& buy Canadian. Our communities would be much better served by action on issues closer to home,such as affordable housing, homelessness, drug addiction,mental health, & crime. Guess these an not as exciting as pretending to have all the answers on climate change.

  8. Julie Hendren says:

    I appreciate the perspective and the information. We need to walk the talk or there will be no healthy planet for younger generations. I am older and will not likely see the full impacts that climate change will have on future generations. I want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem, so I will work on reducing my OWN fossil fuel use, rather than ignoring the problem and hoping that it goes away. The problem has been around for a very long time and it’s not going away unless we choose to do SOMETHING. Maybe, we should start right here.

  9. George Hewison says:

    My wife and I took advantage of the government subsidy and switched to a heat pump two years ago; and found to our astonishment that our fuel and electrical bills were cut by more than 3/4. We were delighted to not only be reducing our carbon footprint, but also saving a lot of money.. I have been doing a lot of research on this since, and come to the conclusion that Enbridge’s Board of Directors are going to end up having hundreds of millioons, if not billions, in”stranded assets” and it will be its customers throughout Canada (Kawartha Lakes) who will be “stranded” having to replace costly furnaces while shale gas companies line up filing for bankruptcy protection in Canada and the US.
    I wholeheartedly support the writer’s concerns.

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