The provincial government has announced an expansion of natural gas access for homes and businesses in west Niagara.
Under Phase 2 of Ontario's Natural Gas Expansion Program, the province has invested more than $4 million with the aim of distributing natural gas and making it more affordable to farms, residents and businesses in the area.
“The natural gas program is all about helping families, businesses and farms find energy savings, while promoting economic development and job creation right across our region,” Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff said at the presentation at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research centre’s newest green house in Vineland. He was joined by Energy Minister Todd Smith, Agriculture Minister Lisa Thompson, as well as local mayors and staff, and Enbridge representatives.
This phase of the natural gas program will provide 43 rural, northern and Indigenous communities with natural gas, starting with Grimsby and Lincoln, creating an approximate 8,700 additional natural gas customers and 660 jobs in the area. The program is projected to allocate more than $234 million to the communities in the next five years.
Each customer over time will pay a monthly fee to help fund the project. Overall, household customers are projected to save $1,500 a year, and businesses are projected to save 30 per cent per year in energy costs and significantly reduce their consumption of carbon-based gasses.
“Natural gas means a lot of things, but it means growth for communities like this and it means opportunities for communities like this,” said Smith. “Our government's efforts to spur this kind of growth are more important now than ever before, in order to support our communities and economic growth post COVID-19.”
Enbridge will be the province’s main partner in supplying gas to the communities, and company rep Cynthia Hansen said they are looking forward to working with the province and the region.
“Beyond the cost savings and the unparalleled reliability, natural gas offers a more sustainable choice for customers switching from costlier and more carbon intensive fuels,” Hansen said.
Lincoln Mayor Sandra Easton said growth and expansion was not the kind of thing any municipality could do on their own and that the co-operation of province, with Enbridge and municipalities included in the project, was vital for growth.
“It’s truly an exciting time to be living, working and growing a business in Lincoln,” she said.
Moosa Imran, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News