Councillor Paul Ainslie’s bid to pull Toronto Hydro’s wind-measuring device from the water before it can finish its work off the Scarborough Bluffs suffered a setback this week at city hall.
But the Scarborough East councillor is still determined to convince his colleagues the utility must remove its anemometer by Nov. 30.
The province gave hydro permission in 2009 to place the device in Lake Ontario off the bluffs. Since May 2010, it has been collecting data to determine if wind conditions could power turbines two to four kilometres off shore.
The province, in the face of local protests, declared a moratorium on wind projects up to five kilometres into the lake, but Toronto Hydro wants its refrigerator-sized device to remain active for a full two years.
Ainslie this week said residents from Ajax to the Leslie Street Spit want the anemometer to disappear now.
“It’s very symbolic for my community,” he said in an interview, arguing studies already done suggest the off-shore location won’t supply the necessary wind conditions.
“I’m getting real tired of a utility that we own doing anything they can to get around the obvious conclusion that is not a fitting place for wind turbines.”
But on Tuesday, Sept. 6, Ainslie’s motions at Toronto’s executive committee to direct hydro to remove the device and to declare a wind-project moratorium of its own were referred to the city manager for a report next month.
Before the decision, Shelly Carroll, a North York councillor not on the executive committee, asked why the anemometer should be removed when it’s so close to finishing its work. “Might not it make your case that it’s not a place to put a wind turbine?”
Scarborough residents speaking to the committee, however, said they shared Ainslie’s stance.
For many Torontonians the anemometer represents “total waste” and they “would like a divorce” from it, Sherri Lange said. “The world is turning against wind power as we speak.”
But Franz Hartmann of the Toronto Environmental Alliance said it would be a waste to stop the information-gathering now. “You will be letting politics trump good business practices,” he said, arguing though vocal constituents in Ainslie’s ward don’t want turbines the rest of Scarborough “has not been asked.”
Ainslie’s motions, during a provincial election campaign, could play “into the hands of those who want to gut green energy plans for the province,” Hartmann added.
Last week, Toronto Hydro spokesperson Joyce Mclean two years of wind data is much more indicative of wind resources than data from one year. After that, hydro will be in a position to make decisions, she said.
Mclean said it was “hard to speculate” about what Hydro would do if committee members told the utility to remove the device.
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