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High winds topple Hamilton Beach Strip wind turbine

High winds toppled a three-storey-high turbine at the west end of Confederation Park – just two months after the tower was reinstalled by the city after an earlier safety scare.

No one was injured when the red tower – one of three along the beach strip – came crashing down Sunday at the park gateway on Van Wagners Beach Road near Beach Boulevard.

But some residents are now questioning the safety of the towering art installations given the city previously took down the turbines in 2018 over fears they could fall on beach and waterfront trail users.

They were only reinstalled in November 2020.

“I kind of liked them … It would have been great if they worked properly,” said beach strip resident Mary Srsan, who posted video of the worrisomely “wobbly” turbine tower Sunday before it toppled.

“But maybe they just aren’t sturdy enough. You don’t want to hurt somebody.”

The red metal towers topped with vertical turbines were installed in 2017 with the help of a $500,000 federal grant – partly as beach art, but also to charge batteries used to power night lighting at park gateways.

The other two beach turbines – one on Van Wagner’s near Adventure Village, the other near Grays Road – remain standing but a contractor is inspecting them to ensure they are safe and undamaged, said city spokesperson Jasmine Graham.

Residents took pictures of the crumpled tower on the ground Monday, noting bolts at the base of the tower that appeared snapped or ripped out.

The city is still waiting on an engineering report on what went wrong, said Graham. The structures remain under warranty, so the city is not expected to be on the hook for the latest repairs.

But two years ago, the city dismantled all three towers as a precaution after residents reported another worrisome wobble at the same location. A safety inspection at the time deemed the turbine an “immediate risk” to public safety.

The city consulted with its contractor and engineer on how to safely reinstall the towers – but for reasons that remained unclear Monday, that didn’t actually happen until last November.