Highlights from Crestview Strategy’s weekly newsletters:
N.S. government retreats on plan to fast-track wind farms in coastal bays
The Province of Nova Scotia has decided to focus first on building the regulatory framework for offshore wind energy development in areas jointly managed with the federal government before considering waters under solely provincial jurisdiction. The decision follows concerns from fisheries groups about the impact on fishing grounds. Natural Resources Minister Tory Rushton reiterated that offshore wind is a crucial part of the province’s clean energy plan, and they are working with federal partners to establish a clear path for sustainable development in this sector. In June, Nova Scotia released the first module of the Offshore Wind Roadmap, which sets out the province’s vision for offshore wind and the regulatory path for businesses to invest in projects. The province intends to offer licenses for five gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, with public consultations ongoing to inform the regulatory framework for both areas.
Alberta Covid-19 Report
Alberta to invoke Sovereignty Act against Ottawa’s Clean Energy Regulations
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith intends to use the province’s Sovereignty Act to challenge Ottawa’s requirement to achieve a net-zero electricity grid by 2035. Smith asserted that the federal target is “unachievable” and will lead to unaffordable electricity for Albertans. The Premier argued that the Clean Energy Regulations overlook Section 92 of the Constitution Act, emphasizing provincial jurisdiction in such matters. Smith expressed reluctance in having to invoke the Act but highlighted the need to defend the province’s constitutional jurisdiction. The move follows Alberta’s submission to Ottawa, which deemed the national Clean Energy Regulations “unworkable” and emphasized the economic repercussions, while critics argue that invoking the Sovereignty Act is merely “political theatre” with legal challenges more likely in court.
The province is set to expand on the Speculation and Vacancy Tax, adding 13 new municipalities.
The province is expanding its speculation and vacancy tax to 13 additional municipalities, part of a strategy to combat real estate speculation in a further attempt to alleviate the housing crisis. As part of B.C.’s Homes for People plan, this expansion is aimed at increasing housing availability by converting vacant second homes into long term rentals.
An independent 2022 review demonstrated that this tax had a significant impact in Metro Vancouver, contributing to over 20,000 homes being made available. Based on this success, the review recommended a phased approach to expand the tax to additional areas. The newly included municipalities are Vernon, Coldstream, Penticton, Summerland, Lake Country, Peachland, Courtenay, Comox, Cumberland, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Salmon Arm, and Kamloops. Residential property owners in these communities will need to declare for the first time in January 2025 based on how they used their property in 2024.
According to Minister of Finance, Katrine Conroy, the tax is designed with various exemptions, including for primary residences and properties with long-term tenants, ensuring that over 99% of B.C. residents remain exempt.
Ontario Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy has issued a statement in response to the federal government’s 2023 Fall Economic Statement. While recognizing shared priorities such as housing and infrastructure, the statement expressed disappointment in a perceived lack of funding for critical infrastructure. Ontario urged a next-generation infrastructure program aligned with provincial priorities and called for the removal of the federal carbon tax on all forms of home heating.
Finance Minister Freeland Calls Deficits in Fall Economic Statement ‘Modest’ – November 26, 2023
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland defended her government’s latest economic statement, linking it to their commitment to modest deficits and investing in Canadians, as promised in 2015. Despite straying from previous deficit limits, she stressed the focus on infrastructure investment while ensuring fiscal responsibility. The economic plan targets housing, labor, and green initiatives, addressing challenges like housing shortages. While pressed about spending outside these areas, Freeland cited Canada’s low debt among G7 nations and its strong credit rating. She pledged to maintain declining deficit ratios but didn’t directly address constraints on future major initiatives like the Canada Child Benefit.
After years of construction turmoil, Finch West LRT on track for 2024 opening: ‘We’ve made a lot of headway’ – November 21, 2023
Metrolinx has announced that the Finch West LRT infrastructure is on track to be completed this year, and the 10-kilometre light rail transit line is scheduled to open in 2024.
This 18-stop light rail transit line will replace the 36 Finch West bus, providing a faster connection from Finch West Station to Humber College to downtown. Despite a quiet delay earlier this summer, as it was initially planned to open this year, the Finch LRT project has largely proceeded without the challenges its counterpart, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, faced.