Community concerns remain over possible wind farm off Scarborough shoreline

by Danielle Milley, Inside Toronto

On a quiet overcast morning on Lake Ontario a three-pronged white metal structure is the only thing visible off the Scarborough shoreline.

From far away it’s hard to see, but as the boat moves closer, Toronto Hydro’s anemometer comes into focus. Its small turbines visible four metres above the water turn from the force of the north wind; this and other data on wind speed and direction will be collected for the next two years. It will be used to help determine whether this is a suitable place to build a wind farm.

Construction on the wind testing device began in the fall, but due to weather it was halted and finished in May. The anemometer has been up and running and collecting data for just a few days now.

To many Scarborough residents its presence means wind turbines are coming to their shoreline.

Chris Tyrrell, Toronto Hydro’s chief conservation officer, said that’s not the case.

“This means we’re doing research,” he said. Tyrrell was one of the Toronto Hydro representatives along on a tour for journalists Thursday, June 10, morning to explain what this development means.

“You have to really understand the wind before you do any project,” he said. “This is really the most important and critical piece. If this shows the wind is unpredictable and inconsistent…you don’t go ahead with the project.”

Some people, including many Guildwood residents, have voiced their concerns with the project from Day 1 nearly two years ago. They talk about noise, vibration, bird and bat fatalities, health concerns, property values and aesthetics. Often cited is a study done by the Ontario Power Authority that used computer modeling to deem this not an ideal location for an offshore project.

“Putting a site specific anemometer really proves what is right here,” Tyrrell said. “Without that you’re just guessing.”

The project is part of a plan to generate 500 megawatts of renewable energy in Toronto. The city has a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and as an asset wholly owned by the city, Tyrrell said Toronto Hydro shares that commitment.

“The renewable energy target is why we’re here today,” he said.

The anemometer is located 1.1 kilometres offshore southeast of East Point Park, a little further east than originally planned, confirmed Joyce McLean, director of strategic issues for Toronto Hydro.

She said there is a lot more to be done before anyone would ever see a wind turbine in this location.

They’ll be looking at the data as it comes in over the next two years to try to determine if the wind data combined with the construction costs makes the project financially feasible.

“If we make a decision to proceed then we’d have to begin an environmental assessment,” McLean said.

The writing of the EA document, which would entail many studies and additional public consultation, would take about a year, and the turnaround for approval from the government is currently about six months.

“It’s a complicated and lengthy process so we’re talking five years before anything is out here,” she said.

A summary of the wind data being collected by the anemometer will be periodically released on Toronto Hydro’s website for those who are interested.

The project would involve up to 60 three- to 3.6-megawatt turbines stretching 25 kilometres from Ajax to the Leslie Street Spit two to four kilometres offshore. The province, however, has yet to set the regulations for offshore wind and distance from shore is one key component of those regulations.

Scarborough East Councillor Paul Ainslie met with Minister of Energy Brad Duguid and Scarborugh-Guildwood MPP Margarett Best on June 4 to discuss the lack of standards. As well, he wants to see site specific regulations established.

“We need to define no-go zones,” said Ainslie in a release.

“Areas which have to be protected from any present or future proposals. There are certain waterways that have environmental, historical and aesthetic value which need protection, especially the Scarborough Bluffs. You don’t see anyone offering a wind turbine project on top of Niagara Falls.”

McLean believes if the project goes ahead it would conform to any standards.

“We’re not concerned because we believe what we’re proposing is a reasonable distance from shore,” she said.

This research phase of the project comes with a $1.1-million price tag.

6 thoughts on “Community concerns remain over possible wind farm off Scarborough shoreline

  1. They don’t care how much wind there is – they will build anyways.

    The project manager of Skypower’s Byran Wind Farm stood in my front hall, about a year ago and freely admitted to me that that the wind profile in this area was rather poor. (In fact, the MNR Wind Map of Ontario supports his position), but they were forging ahead anyways.

    “The provincial government offered up this area and we took it”, was his observation. “There are lots of places with better wind – that was not a factor”

    So let’s see what happens off the bluffs – my money is on build, build, build….!

  2. Oh, boy–they’re upset over turbines 2-4 k’s off shore. I wonder how they’d feel about 500 metres set-back!
    All of Ontario should become a no-go area.
    “The Provincial government offered up this area”
    Just who in tarnation does McGuinty think he is anyway? There’s a word for offering up someone else’s possessions–I believe it’s called theft.
    No one owns the night sky, no one owns the birds, no one owns the wind and no-one owns my health. McGuinty and other similarily thinking personse should be invited to take the express train to Hades and dwell therein surrounded by turbines and soon. There they should remain forever!

  3. PECV:

    Look at the map showing spare transmission capacity. It is mostly in Eastern Ontario. That’s why we have Wind Turbines on the Morraine — here or in progress.

    The wind map shows the most productive wind along the lake shores. All other areas of the province show as marginal on the wind maps.

    It’s all about collecting the subsidies — isn’t it?

    I wonder how Ontarions will feel when they next venture out to the “country side” and find an industrial landscape of wind turbines.

    Maybe people should be offering a”Turbine Infested Bread and Breakfast Service” so that vacationers and city people can live in a home adjacent to turbines and “feel the power”. Just like an old time religious revival.

    In the meantime the Toronto Star (The Red Star) is silly publishing bubbly little Tyler Hamilton’s stories of Green Delight.

    Ill thought out Green Policies are worse than any BP Oil Spill.

  4. They most likely have already started writing the Environment Assessment. Why wait? Any wind will do, as it really doesn’t matter how much wind blows as the results would be similarly dismal.

  5. “Often cited is a study done by the Ontario Power Authority that used COMPUTER MODELING to deem this not an ideal location for an offshore project.

    “Putting a site specific anemometer really PROVES what is right here,” [Chris Tyrrell at Toronto Hydro] said. “Without that you’re JUST GUESSING.””

    Hmph. Sounds like the “sound modelling” used during the design phase of all IWT developments in Ontario to “ensure” sound level will not exceed 40dba at any point of reception.

    It seems to me that in order to verify that this is in fact true, we would need to put noise measurement equipment in place at all existing wind farms to veryify compliance, otherwise we’re “just guessing”!

    (Is anyone at the Ministry of the Environment reading this?! How do you sleep at night, knowing your ineptitude is depriving those living near IWTs of the restorative sleep they need to be healthy?)

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