(Ed. Just so we don’t get a bunch of astonished comments- this is unfortunately just tongue in cheek (-; )
Special to the Post by Ben Dover
TORONTO, JULY 5, 2012 – Premier Dalton McGuinty and Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford, in a rare show of co-operation jointly announced today a multi-billion-dollar initiative to bring green energy to Toronto and eventually the entire Greater Toronto Area.
The initiative, dubbed Toronto Hot Air, will see dozens of large industrial wind turbines dotted across the Toronto and GTA landscape. According to McGuinty, the project will be realized through a special arrangement with Chinese energy giant, China Dongyuan, a state-owned company that recently went public on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The province will clear planning and environmental hurdles for the company and provide more than $4 billion in guaranteed electricity subsidies over the next 20 years to ensure the project’s viability.
The project’s name is a play on words, Mayor Ford told wind industry officials gathered at the upscale mid-town restaurant, Canoe, for the announcement. “It’s our way of saying that energy from the “wind” is a “hot” initiative right now,” Ford said.
“I’m proud of the Green Energy Act,” said McGuinty, “and am pleased to find a way to extend its benefits to Toronto and the GTA. Our government feels it is necessary to find ways to treat all Ontarians equally.”
Premier McGuinty said his officials completed several surveys over the last few days that indicated Torontonians were eager to embrace such a green energy initiative. Apparently, Torontonians show little concern over the 20% to 70% drops in property values experienced in rural parts of Ontario where industrial wind farms have been imposed. Nor do Torontonians seem concerned about the health-related issues several people living near wind turbines report, McGuinty said. With Toronto’s 24-hour-a-day culture, sleep and noise are non issues he said.
Premier McGuinty also noted that Torontonians were eager to show leadership in green energy, rejecting the NIMBYism said to be rampant in non-urban areas of the province. To support this point, Mayor Ford said the wind turbines will be a win-win for the city. Since many of the turbines will be located in the city’s parks and recreation areas, the budget for this department will be redirected to support the wind industry subsidies. He also indicated that the millions of dollars earmarked for retrofitting Nathan Phillips Square in front of City Hall will no longer be required as the square will be closed to accommodate the first turbine. “It’s important that the city show leadership,” Mayor Ford said.
Several residents associations across the city have already come forward requesting a turbine be located in their neighbourhoods. Included are some of the city’s toniest areas including Rosedale, Forest Hill and the Bridle Path. “I think it’s important for the city’s elite to step forward to support the government in this initiative. It will definitely pay dividends for all of us,” a president of one of the groups said, speaking off the record.
Not to be outdone, Premier McGuinty said the second turbine would be erected on the front lawn of the Legislature. “The turbine will be a boon to the government,” he said, “because the area will be closed to protesters eliminating the need to spend policing dollars to control demonstrators.”
A representative of China Dongyuan who asked to remain anonymous said building the turbines in an urban environment would present some engineering challenges. “This city has far too many trees, and I fear they will make our inefficient turbines even more inefficient.” For this reason, the company has negotiated a special arrangement with the city and the province to remove any trees from park areas and private property it deems will interfere with its turbines. “We are also concerned about a potential nuisance from the city’s bird and bat populations,” the company spokesman said. “However, your Ministry of Environment has been kind enough to issue us an overall benefit certificate that exempts our project from any scrutiny under the Endangered Species Act and any requirement to waste time posting our plans on something you call the EBR. Everyone knows that bats in particular carry disease and our project will provide an overall health benefit to Toronto taxpayers.”
Almost before the celebration that followed the announcement began, mayors from several other Ontario cities texted the Premier begging to be considered for the next “hot air” project. “We all have lots of parks and recreation areas within our neighbourhoods that easily could be repurposed for industrial wind production,” said one mayor of a city near Toronto. “I hope this isn’t a case where Toronto gets all the goodies again,” he added.
Mayor Ford said shovels will go in the ground immediately and involve several road closings throughout the city. “This will be necessary to move the large machines and to run the network of wires necessary to connect them to the Toronto Hydro grid, and” he added, “another benefit will be a significant drop in gridlock as drivers will find it extremely difficult to navigate this mess.”
Asked whether there would be any long-term impact on the city’s traffic problems, Mayor Ford said he was aware there may be some safety issues related to such minor problems as turbine failure and ice throw which could require some road closures, but that the city’s taxpayers were highly talented and resourceful and could easily move to backward jurisdictions that didn’t have the kind of vision exhibited by Toronto.
Besides, he said, the higher rates for electricity will depress the city’s competitiveness and hence our need to create jobs. With fewer people in the city, there will be less crime, less gridlock and the need for fewer municipal services – definitely a win for a few of us.