Residents staunchly oppose gas-fired plant

MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO - Hundreds of south Mississauga residents who attended a town hall meeting remained staunchly united in opposing the idea of a gas-fuelled power plant being built in their neighbourhood.

And they had plenty to say about it.

Residents who packed the halls of the Ontario Raquet Club heard the results of an independent report that was commissioned by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA). The study conducted by the Burlington-based environmental firm, Jacques Whitford, says building a gas-fired power plant in the area would have no adverse impact on the health of south Mississauga residents.

The OPA announced last month that it has identified four companies that will bid for the contract to build an 850-megawatt natural gas plant in south west GTA and depending on which firm is awarded the contract, the power plant could be built in Mississauga, Oakville or Etobicoke. The OPA will reveal the successful bidder in late June.

Sithe Global Power hopes to win the OPA contract.

The company already has regulatory approval to build a plant near Winston Churchill Blvd., south of Royal Windsor Dr. The facility could be up and running by 2013.

At the meeting, Dr. Boyd Upper, chair of the Clear The Air Coalition and the Southdown Station community advisory committee, dismissed the report as “less than comforting.” He accused the OPA of undermining the results of a previous airshed study — conducted by the Environment Ministry in 2006 — that revealed Clarkson was heavily polluted.

Upper, who is opposed to the proposal for an 850-megawatt power plant in Clarkson, said the Jacques Whitford report does not consider the environmental and health consequences of other old and new gas-fired power plants in the GTA, including one in Brampton. He said those plants will significantly add to the pollution in the area.

The Jacques Whitford report says the amount of pollution generated by a new gas plant will be well within Ontario's air quality standards.

“The Ontario air quality standards are so accommodating that Nanticoke (a coal-powered plant) meets them,” Upper said. “They (Jacques Whitford) gave what the OPA wanted them to do. I find the report wanting on several fronts. I don't think it's a sound study.”

Clarkson resident Julie Desjardins, co-chair of the Clarkson Study Advisory Committee and Dr. David Mowat, medical officer of health for Peel Region, also delivered strong arguments against a power plant.

But JoAnne Butler, the OPA's vice-president of electricity resources, said that after hearing from the community about their health and safety concerns, her organization had set stringent air quality standards for each of the four bidders.

“I can understand concerns,” Butler said. “I think, if people understood the whole big picture and about the electricity system, and the fact that we're going so much greener and getting off coal, it's really a good news story. I know it's hard to believe that, when you think it might be in your area.”


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