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2006 04 13
The Death of Our Good Waterfront Intentions
imageWhy is it that whenever Toronto begins to improve the waterfront one of the other levels of Canadian government stops those improvements cold? The Ontario Liberal's decision to build a new power plant on the waterfront is the latest example of this unwanted interference. Our city government does not want this plant. Residents in downtown Toronto don't want it. Toronto Hydro says we don't need it. So, can someone explain why this plant is arbitrarily going forward?

A large crowd of city residents came together at the St. Lawrence Forum last night to discuss the question. There were four panelists:
• Councillor Paula Fletcher: City representative for Toronto-Danforth
• Jack Gibbons: Chair, The Ontario Clean Air Alliance
• Greg Allen: President, Sustainable Edge
• Paul Young: Health Promoter, South Riverdale Community Health Centre.

One of the four panelists was for it: Jack Gibbons of Ontario Clean Air Alliance but only as an interim step towards a nuclear free Ontario. The provincial government declined an offer to attend. The audience was completely against it. What did we learn?

Canadians are the greatest per-capita consumers of electricity in the world. Ontario residents use 60% more energy per capita than our neighbours in New York State. According to Greg Allen of Sustainable Edge, we can satisfy much of our energy needs by adopting some relatively simple conservation schemes. By adding new green technologies like wind and solar power, and storage infrastructure like flow batteries, we could have more than enough clean energy to take care of our long term needs without blighting the waterfront.

Instead, Torontonians are handed a big, comparatively inefficient generator on prime waterfront land for at least the next twenty to thirty years. Kiss our vision of a 21st century waterfront on par with Chicago's goodbye. Air pollution will go up. People will suffer. Waste heat will be dumped into the confined bay in front of the plant. Who is making these decisions?

It gets worse. In today's Globe and Mail there is a story about how the new federal government is cutting funding to anti-global warming programs by 80 percent. Do our government representatives live in the same world as the rest of us? Don't they see the way we are harming the environment that sustains us? While enlightened first-world countries are embracing environment friendly power generation, Canadian politicians seem stuck in a smokestack mentality. Where will it end?

[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 04/13 at 11:30 AM

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