Committee votes to keep wind gauge on Lake Ontario

Executive Committee at Toronto City Hall voted to keep the anemometer on Lake Ontario off the Scarborough bluffs for now. (EXEC_COMM_OCTAVIAN)

Despite local opposition to the city’s installation of a wind gauge offshore at the Scarborough bluffs, the anemometer will remain in Lake Ontario until fall of 2012.

Responding to some of his constituents’ concerns, during a meeting of executive committee at Toronto city hall on Tuesday, Scarborough East Coun. Paul Ainslie had proposed to remove the device. However, Coun. David Shiner worried that removal of the device would waste more money.

“It will cost more to remove the anemometer earlier (from) Lake Ontario than to leave it in until the end of its contract,” he said. “We cancel this now and we’ll still be asking ourselves if that is a good spot for turbines.”

In 2009, Toronto Hydro installed the anemometer on a steel platform in Lake Ontario, one kilometre offshore from the Scarborough bluffs to collect readings from winds on the lake.

Coun. Ainslie argued that some Scarborough residents don’t want any wind farms near their community.

“I don’t have one community association in that entire area (that) says, ‘We like wind turbines. Keep the anemometer out there.’ They want it out, short and simple,” Ainslie said.

He argued that the $1 million device has been in place a year without conclusive information.

“Hydro can’t even point out to two months in a row where there is enough wind to successfully run wind turbines out there,” he said.

Jack Simpson, vice-president of Toronto Hydro energy services, explained the sole purpose of the anemometer is to advance the scientific understanding of wind on the Great Lakes. He denied any immediate plans for a wind farm.

“Such a plan would have to be financially viable and the moratorium would have to be removed,” he said.

Scarborough bluffs resident Roy Wright does not support the wind farm initiative.He called the anemometer an eyesore.

“They’re not capable of building major project like this,” Wright said. “They couldn’t even locate the anemometer in the correct place… “This thing is larger than the Statue of Liberty.”

Ultimately, executive committee voted to keep the device in place to the end of the existing contract.