In five years, a wind farm may be spread across the waters off Scarborough — or not, if the opposition wins the debate to save the shoreline.
Despite the wishes of protesting Scarborough residents, an anemometer is currently under construction in Lake Ontario. A sign that Toronto Hydro is serious about continuing with the project, the anemometer collects data over two years to help determine if there’s enough wind.
However, plans for the windmills are being delayed by Save Our Shorelines activists.
“It doesn’t make sense to build any industrial machinery where we get our drinking water,” says John Laforet, president of Wind Concerns Ontario and Ward 43 council candidate. “You have to draw the line and say that our health and our drinking water are too important.”
So many people opposed to the turbines, that he doesn’t see them being built by the time of the 2015 Pan Am Games, Laforet said.
The government must assess sediment movement before and after construction and how this may trigger environmental problems, Jovan Stefanovic , University of Toronto professor of geomorphology.
In the meantime, the project seems to be going ahead.
“You have an environmental assessment process so that everybody’s opinion can be aired, but really it’s the governments that decide whether they can proceed,” said Joyce McLean, Toronto Hydro director of environmental affairs.
It is impossible the turbines create enough noise pollution to cause health problems, McLean says, referring to the minimal noise heard from the onshore turbine at Exhibition Place.
“What we do know about onshore wind turbines is that when they’re turning you’re hearing the wind more than the actual sound of the machine,” McLean said.
Onshore wind turbines have an acceptable distance of 550 metres around them, she said. “You’re not going to hear them when they are two to four kilometers away.”
The location chosen for wind testing along the Scarborough Bluffs is in the middle of a 26-km province-approved stretch of land.
But finding locations to generate renewable energy is only one step in the energy consumption issue.
“Controlling how much we are using is a critical first step,” McLean said. “We’re looking at solar installations across the city and helping homeowners who wish to do that for their own means.”