Opposition blows against proposed wind farm

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Opposition is growing to a proposed wind turbine farm about two kilometres off the Scarborough Bluffs from residents worried it would tarnish their picturesque Guildwood Village neighbourhood.

Residents were informed last month that Toronto Hydro had submitted an application to the Ministry of Natural Resources to install an anemometer platform off the Guildwood shoreline to test the location's wind resources.

If approved, the platform would be set up for two years to determine whether the area could sustain a wind turbine farm of 60 turbines in Lake Ontario.

The project would be funded by Toronto Hydro, which anticipates federal assistance.

But Al Duggan, a retired air traffic controller, said he already knows his backyard is not the right location for 60 windmills. "[Toronto Hydro is] totally being ignorant of the facts... not paying attention to the federal government's history of aviation and winds."

Mr. Duggan, who has lived in Guildwood for six years, said Toronto Pearson International Airport and Toronto Island airport were built on the west side of the city for a reason, and the testing spot does not take advantage of the prevailing westerly winds.

The tall trees and the upward thermals from lake breezes would also disrupt wind flow, he said.

"I think they're shooting in the dark. I think it's a political thing," Mr. Duggan said.

But Toronto Hydro spokeswoman Joyce McLean said the company's weather station data indicate the location has better wind than any other spot on Lake Ontario within Toronto's borders. "The optimal area is the eastern side."

Gisela Bach, a resident of 20 years, said her major concern was for the Scarborough Bluffs' ecological system. Migrating birds and bats would be killed by the turbines and marine life in Lake Ontario would be affected, she said.

"We have an ecological treasure here," Ms. Bach said. "I'm not a scientist, but I spend a lot of time by the lake. My love for the Scarborough Bluffs and shoreline - that's what I'd like to preserve and keep as it is."

But the proposed wind turbines would be less hazardous than on-land buildings, Ms. McLean said, adding Toronto Hydro conducted a one-year study and found one turbine killed two birds in one year, which is the industry standard.

"I can tell you there was a building on Highway 401 last Thanksgiving that in one day killed 49 hummingbirds," she said. "That's not at all what we're anticipating."

Guildwood resident Roy Wright said he collected a petition with more than 100 signatures from neighbours upset the turbines would "be right in their backyard."

It would be like living on an airport runway, with strobe lights flashing and noise pollution, Mr. Wright said. "Property rates will go down... It will change forever this pristine and unadulterated waterfront."

Ms. McLean said said the noise generated at Toronto Hydro's wind turbine at Exhibition Place is no more than 44 decibels, equivalent to a normal conversation.

"It's new, what we're suggesting. But in our minds this really signals... a progressive society," she said. "It would absolutely reduce the city's greenhouse gas emissions. It would be a real icon for the city of Toronto."

But Mr. Duggan said this can be accomplished by redirecting power generation to individual homes, adding progressive alternatives such as photovoltaic tiles (small wind turbines) seen on some European building roofs are worth investing in.

"[Toronto Hydro] wants to do all the power generation and power selling. That's the key," Mr. Duggan said.

The Ministry of Natural of Resources ended its comment period for the proposed anemometer. Only parties who provided input will be notified of approvals and developments on the proposal.

"I like the idea of a wind farm. I'm the greenest guy in Toronto," Mr. Wright said. "I guess it's location more than anything else."


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