Both federal and provincial government authorities have issued environmental approval for three wind turbines to be built on the waterfront of Toronto.
TORONTO, Ontario – The Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC) and Toronto Hydro Energy Services Inc. (THESI) say the proposal to construct the turbines has reached a significant environmental milestone following environmental approvals from both Environment Canada and the Ontario Government. “We’re absolutely delighted to announce that Environment Canada has granted a Final Environmental Assessment Approval for the Waterfront Wind Turbine project,” says TREC general manager Bryan Young. “The federal government’s confidence in this project and its commitment to wind power as a clean and sustainable alternative to fossil fuel-burning energy sources is, we hope, a fresh sign of environmental leadership – one that our country desperately needs.” The Ontario Government has also granted a Declaration Order for the project. “We’d like to commend the Ontario Government for its leadership on this ground-breaking wind project,” adds Joyce McLean, Manager of Green Energy for THES. The vast majority of residents in the area approved the project, as did most environmental organizations in the city, elected politicians at the provincial and federal level, and the Olympic Bid Committee. Toronto is bidding to host the 2008 Olympics, and the wind turbines would be located in the main sports area. “This is a wonderful news for Toronto and great news for the environment,” she says. “We are looking forward to breaking ground in early 2001.” The proposal to erect three turbines was announced in June 1999, to be located at a former treatment plant in east Toronto. The site is more than one kilometer from any home and local residents expressed concern during the 20 month environmental assessment about the level of noise from the turbines and bird mortality. “The background sound-level in an average urban residential neighbourhood is significantly higher than that of the wind turbines,” says McLean. “All residences are located at least 250 meters from all of the proposed locations for the wind turbines and will not likely be heard above background levels.” “We’re concerned about wildlife impacts too, including the effects of continuing carbon dioxide and other air contaminant emissions on birds and other creatures that live in Toronto,” she explains. “The average rate of bird mortality at wind farms in North America is demonstrated to be fewer than two birds per year per turbine.” “Tall communications towers in Canada are responsible for killing more than 1,000 birds per year, and volunteers routinely sweep up thousands of dead birds from Toronto’s downtown business district every year,” she adds. “Research shows that low buildings, houses, even household cats, kill more birds than wind turbines.” Each of the three wind turbines will displace the emission of up to 1,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), 8,400 kg of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and 5,600 kg of nitrous oxide (NOX), which are the main ingredients in acid rain, smog and ground-level ozone. Each unit will generate 1,400 megawatt hours of electricity a year, sufficient for 250 homes. TREC was formed in 1997 by a community environmental group, and used a grant from the Toronto Atmospheric Fund to form a co-operative. THES is an energy services provider in Ontario which has developed the Citisource option. Toronto Hydro Corporation and its subsidiaries comprise the second largest municipal electricity distribution utility in North America, and distributes 25 percent of Ontario’s power with annual revenues of $2 billion and 650,000 customers.