Residents thought it was gone with the wind, but they were wrong. Toronto Hydro has started the construction of an anemometer, which is slated for completion off the Scarborough Bluffs in about four weeks.
“[The] community is quite upset,” said Sherri Lange, a founding member of Save the Toronto Bluffs. “We thought that putting the anemometer at this time of the year was too late. We suspected that the installation would happen next spring, if at all.”
Lange said that it had seemed as if the subject had been dropped. She even received a letter from the minister of natural resources, which made her think her voice had been heard.
“There’s a profound amount of disappointment among residents because we put a lot of work into protesting and into asking for more environmental assessments,” Lange said.
Several community groups, such as Save the Toronto Bluffs and Toronto Wind Action, wrote hundreds of letters to government officials on behalf of about 20,000 people from the area. Residents also wrote letters to Toronto Hydro asking for more details on the anemometer project, but they didn’t get any concrete answers. Toronto Hydro only replied with “‘that’s commercially sensitive information,’” Lange said.
“It’s not acceptable that the turbine industry sacrifices a portion of the population for the benefit of the rest,” she said.
Furthermore, Lange said, the bluffs will also be sacrificed. Scarborough’s bluffs are a historical and ecological site that needs to be protected.
“In 10 years we’ll realize what a terrible mistake we made because calling wind energy an environmentally friendly technology is utterly false,” she said.
But not all agree with her.
According to Joyce McLean, Toronto Hydro’s director of strategic issues, Ontario’s goal is to increase renewable energy supply and so a significant amount of green gases will be reduced.
“We need to collectively start thinking about ways that ensure our kids and grandkids will be able to survive in our planet,” she said. “It’s about seeing the long-term goal.”
She also mentioned that anemometers pose no health threats. Guildwood’s concerns were addressed in the studies done for the Ministry of Natural Resources. If there were any side effects the project would have been declined, McLean explains.
Lange, however, says Toronto Hydro simply pursues a “vanity project.” And the economy can’t afford vanities now, she adds.
“We don’t want more money to be spent on the anemometer when we totally reject turbines in Lake Ontario,” she said.
But McLean reminds Guildwood the device is only for wind energy research and there’s no current plan to propose a wind farm.
“We’re not proposing to build windmills. We’re simply collecting data.”
Wind data will be collected for two years and other factors will be studied, such as costs for construction and electricity grid connections.
The platform will be 1.2 kilometres off the bluffs. If results are satisfactory, a 60-turbine wind farm could stretch from Ajax to Leslie Street Spit.
Residents, however, will continue to oppose the project with more protests and educational campaigns.
“We’ll win this,” Lange said. “We’re going to fight back.”