Toronto is unique in its diversity, abundant in talent and full of people who care about the quality of urban life. But even ardent fans admit the city is a bit of an Ugly Betty and unlikely to win any beauty contests.
So why is Toronto Hydro flirting with the idea of spoiling one the few truly beautiful natural features we have left?
The utility is considering installing as many as 60 wind power turbines off Toronto’s eastern shoreline. If tests show there is sufficient wind to justify the project, a string of turbines could soon dominate the waterscape from Leslie Street eastward to Ajax.
Scarborough residents are raising questions about noise, the impact of the turbines on bird populations and whether the project could alter wind patterns and affect the Scarborough Bluffs. Expensive consultants’ reports and competing scientific opinions are clearly on the horizon.
Also on the horizon, if the project goes ahead, is a collection of ugly industrial clutter destined to haunt generations to come. The wind farm would be located two to four kilometres off shore. That may sound like quite a distance, but wind turbines are huge so we’re not talking about a few little specks off in the distance.
A wind farm glistening on a ridge of land in rural Ontario or southern Alberta can be a beautiful sight, particularly at sunrise or sunset. There’s something about the combination of human ingenuity and nature’s raw power that inspires awe.
The thing is, there’s more than one ridge of land in rural Ontario and southern Alberta.
But there’s only one Lake Ontario shoreline. It’s the only truly natural vista left in the city, the last refuge for anyone desperate to escape the madding crowd and a relentless landscape of concrete, glass and steel.
Toronto Hydro says the offshore site is attractive because the shallow water around a reef just offshore would make installation relatively cheap. This is the same expedient, short-term thinking that gave us the Gardiner Expressway and that wall of condo ugliness along Lakeshore Drive.
We messed up badly on the waterfront. Let’s not compound the mistake on the water itself.