A wind farm on the Leslie Spit is being proposed by a little-known company called Sunwincor International. Opposition to the plan is already forming.
Wind turbines on the Leslie Street Spit?
A little-known renewable energy company claims to be working on a wind project at the base of the spit.
Details of the proposal are sketchy, and the proponent is something of a mystery. But opponents of the project are already starting to rally.
A firm called Sunwincor International says it is considering the wind power development.
“The Leslie Wind Farm will be located on the Outer Harbour East Headland at the base of Leslie Street adjacent to Toronto, Ontario,” the company says on its website, without providing more detail.
Sunwincor has little public profile. Its website lists Jafray Hinsen as the only contact. Hinsen has an email address, but the firm lists no phone number or address beyond “Mississauga.”
Hinsen didn’t reply to messages Monday.
There is no record of Sunwincor being incorporated in Ontario, and it is not listed as a member of the Canadian Wind Energy Association.
If Sunwincor’s project has substance, it’s likely to provoke some stiff resistance.
A proposal by Toronto Hydro in 2008 to build a string of turbines in Lake Ontario several kilometers out in the lake off the Scarborough Bluffs drew fierce opposition from residents.
Toronto Hydro ultimately backed away from the plan.
This time around Friends of the Spit, a volunteer group that has lobbied to protect the spit for wildlife, has alerted supporters about the proposal. Their latest newsletter left little question about the group’s position:
“Every issue of our newsletter seems to include some hare-brained idea to destroy the urban wilderness and make it useful for business,” it said.
“Rest assured we are already in motion to defeat this latest threat!”
The spit has become the base for a huge population of both year-round and migratory birds. Whirling turbine blades can kill birds and bats.
In an interview John Carley, co-chair of Friends of the Spit, said it is the nesting ground for 60,000 pairs of ring-bill gulls, as well as herons and terns. It’s also a jumping-off and landing point for thousands of migrating song-birds and bats.
“The biggest worry with the turbines is the migratory aspect,” he said in an interview. “On a misty night, it could be deadly.”
The Friends helped to fight off a previous attempt in the 1990s to put a wind turbine on the spit, he said; it ended up being built at Exhibition Place.
It’s not clear precisely where the turbines might be located, but the Toronto Region Conservation Authority has over-all responsibility for implementing the master plan for Tommy Thompson Park at the spit.
Chief executive Brian Denney wrote a letter to Hinsen telling him that a wind farm “is not appropriate at this site.”
Denney said he understands the wind farm would have nine turbines, each of which can generate 2.3 megawatts.
The park is a globally significant bird area, with more than 316 species recorded, he said in his letter.
“You should discontinue any further reference to this proposal as a possible project,” Denney wrote.
In an interview Monday, Denney said he never received a reply from the company. But subsequent to his letter, Sunwincor started an online petitionseeking support for the Leslie project.
Wind energy has created a dilemma for environmentalists, who like the idea of renewable power, but don’t want to see it come at the expense of wildlife.
The David Suzuki Foundation recently voiced opposition to a wind project in Prince Edward County out of concern for wildlife. Opponents of the wind farm – led by the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists – succeeded in halting the project because it might harm Blanding’s Turtle, a threatened species.
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