Smitherman vows to establish green tech district

by JOHN LORINC  Globe and Mail

Battling for advantage in what amounts to a dead heat, mayoral hopeful George Smitherman reached out to ethnic businesses and the city’s nascent green technology sector Thursday with an economic development strategy that will rely on unpaid “ambassadors” who will sell Toronto abroad, as well as tax abatements to attract clean-tech firms to the city.

Using measures such as tax increment financing, Mr. Smitherman pledged to establish a green business district in an as yet unspecified area of the city where there’s an abundance of fallow industrial land. At a news conference downtown, he said he plans to create an “incubator” area that will attract environmental NGOs, green energy businesses and research outfits. The announcement came just hours before he secured the endorsement of former Green Party boss Jim Harris.

He also intends to draw on the members of Toronto’s various ethnic chambers of commerce to assemble a team of about 500 emissaries who will promote the city while travelling abroad on business.

Apart from the ambassadors, the core of Mr. Smitherman’s economic development plan does little more than tweak council’s current approach, which focused on using the recently established “Invest Toronto” agency to promote the city. Mr. Smitherman acknowledged the city’s economic development strategy in the past has suffered from a lack of focus, and he says he’ll put the priority on four key sectors: clean tech, arts/media, financial services and medical technology.

While Mayor David Miller promoted the city’s environmental record, Invest Toronto’s strategy placed scant focus on attracting green jobs.

With the pledge of clean-tech jobs, Mr. Smitherman is clearly anxious to use provisions of the 2009 Green Energy Act, which he spearheaded as a member of the Liberal government at Queen’s Park, to encourage manufactures to set up shop in Toronto. The act specifies that green energy suppliers must use equipment that’s been partly assembled in Ontario. But the Japanese government this fall launched a trade challenge to Ontario’s procurement rules, calling them discriminatory.

As energy minister, Mr. Smitherman ran into a wall of public and internal criticism last year when he cut a sole-source deal with South Korean manufacturing giant Samsung C&T to set up a $7-billion wind and solar panel plant somewhere in Ontario. Queen’s Park last January finally approved the deal. The company promised to create 16,000 jobs in exchange for over $400-million in incentives.

Special to The Globe and Mail

9 thoughts on “Smitherman vows to establish green tech district

  1. Old Smithy has basically bankrupted Ontario with his “Green Utopian Nightmare” ………just make this wee man go away before he destroys what’s left of our Province!

  2. Oh boy…this just never quits! Smitherman as mayor, McGuinty the Premier, Miller whose best friend is Tom Heintzman of Bullfrog power. Such a tighty tight little group. Loooook Out Ontario!!! You have no idea what is about to hit your pocketbooks!!

  3. So what is the deal? Are we going to test Turbines in Toronto? Pretty funny! Maybe like I said earlier he will set aside High Park for a test bed operation for Solar Cells and Turbines.

    ..and the hits just keep on coming!

  4. Georgie boy is a scary individual that cares little how his promises will financially cost people. He says whatever he thinks people will believe and want to hear with little information on cost or impact. Loves to spend other peoples’ money and keep his friends happy. Unpaid ambassadors? Nothing is free and his friends will make money from that program. George is a parasite, who can adjust to whatever host is available.

  5. If the comments section contained at the Globe & Mail site are an indication of where the mayor’s race is in Toronto, I would say Smitherman is all but washed up. Looks good on him.

  6. I wonder…

    Will the Green District have an office for the Carbon Fairy… 🙂

    See here…

    ROWLATT: A couple of years ago I was given a very unusual job. I became the BBC’s Ethical Man. My family and I were asked to spend an entire year exploring what we could do to tackle global warming. We gave up the car, stopped flying for a year, turned down the thermostat – everything we could think of to cut our carbon emissions. Because I thought that was what tackling global warming was all about. But the more time I’ve spent talking to people in the green movement, the more I’ve come to
    suspect that cutting carbon emissions isn’t the top
    priority for all green campaigners. What worries me is that the political objectives of some greens seem to override their interest in solving global warming.

    Solitaire Townsend runs a city PR firm, but one
    which specialises in communicating a single issue: sustainability.

    TOWNSEND: I was making a speech to nearly 200 really hard core, deep environmentalists and I played a little thought game on them. I said imagine I am the carbon fairy and I wave a magic wand. We can get rid of all the carbon in the atmosphere, take it down to two hundred fifty parts per million and I will ensure with my little magic wand that we do not go above two degrees of global warming. However, by waving my magic wand I will be interfering with the laws of
    physics not with people – they will be as selfish, they will be as desiring of status. The cars will get bigger, the houses will get bigger, the planes will fly all over the place but there will be no climate change. And I asked them, would you ask the fairy to wave its magic wand? And about 2 people of the 200 raised their hands.

    ROWLATT: That is quite shocking. I bet you were
    shocked, weren’t you?

    TOWNSEND: I was angry. I wasn’t shocked. I was angry because it really showed that they wanted more. They didn’t just want to prevent climate change. They wanted to somehow change people, or at very least for people to know that they had to change.

    ROWLATT: I noticed early on in my year of living
    ethically that all sorts of the advice you get from
    greens has little if anything to do with tackling global warming. Organic food, for example, is often more carbon intensive to produce than super-efficient industrial agriculture; locally produced goods can sometimes have a higher carbon foot print than imported goods. Greens are concerned about these other objectives because the environmental movement has been around a lot longer than the climate issue indeed most of its preoccupations and themes predate it, says the sociologist Lord Anthony Giddens.

    So what is the value of spending billions and trillions of your dollars on Green Dreams? It’s so that we can celebrate the life of the Carbon Fairy — George Smitherman! (Not to mention David McGuinty!)

  7. As I recall the 2003 blackout was caused by grid damage in Ohio.

    How can they keep circulating this lie!!!

  8. If 80% capacity needs to be replaced in Ontario than someone better start planning for a replacement. Forgot. We have no plan. If anyone thinks wind and solar are a good enough plan they must be in wonderland. We will be broke before they get past a percentage or two, if we could ever get that. The report from the Centre of Excellence (is that title a joke?) could have been written by a first year university student. Author should be kind of embarrassed at the wading pool depth of p—- in water.

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