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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Conflicting views of T.O.’s waterfront and engery needs

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Robert Ouellette had a good post on Reading Toronto yesterday (with some good links, too): “Why is it that whenever Toronto begins to improve the waterfront one of the other levels of Canadian government stops those improvements cold? The Ontario Liberal’s decision to build a new power plant on the waterfront is the latest example of this unwanted interference. Our city government does not want this plant. Residents in downtown Toronto don’t want it. Toronto Hydro says we don’t need it. So, can someone explain why this plant is arbitrarily going forward?”

His post coincides with the chapter I’m currently reading (“Wasteful Cities”) in John Lorinc’s recent book The New City. Cities are energy hogs and this has a profound trickle-down effect on the public realm in the form of pollution. Lorinc’s book is packed with great stats and reports.
And, as we can see from the energy plant debate going on, our energy needs may also have a significant effect on the potential growth of our urban form at the water’s edge. You can find out more about Lorinc’s The New City in an Eye Weekly article by Spacing‘s managing editor Dale Duncan (it’s a few weeks old).



  1. But is it right that another part of the province has to deal with the pollution arising from the power that Toronto needs? Toronto Hydro doesn’t have much generation in the city, so I don’t know how they can say we don’t need it.

    Both IESO and OPA are having kittens over the state of the provincial grid. Unless we get new generation, better transmission or radical conservation in the next couple of years, get used to blackouts.

  2. I’d rather have blackouts (and conservation) than more pollution.

  3. Toronto consumes a huge percentage of the province’s energy, yet generates practically none of it’s own. (Point of interest, what little power we do generate is natural gas based) What’s worse, is the majority of the power we siphon from the province comes into the city by way of a small number of hydro corridors. This is at best unwise, at worst dangerous.

    With this in mind, how can anyone oppose a natural gas plant built in the city? Sure, I’d rather see a massive wind farm, solar array, conservation and more deep lake cooling, but nearly every environmental group concedes that we need natural gas as a transition fuel until we can fully replace our current infrastructure with renewable alternatives.

    The province is sticking it’s nose into Toronto business because that’s it’s job. Power generation and maintaining the supply while preserving the environment is the mandate of the provincial government and they can’t make everyone happy. Toronto needs power and we don’t want to choke on coal or nuclear, so natural gas is the best intermediary choice.

  4. Does building a power plant cost more than importing that energy in combination with solar/wind/conservtion? I dunno. Are there other areas of the city where a plant can go? There is also the cost of fucking up the waterfront. If the waterfront is developed properly it could generate loads of money — so putting a power plant there also means we could be losing money from tourism, devleopment tax base, etc.

    It is a very tricky subject to get one’s head around because there are a variety of different persepctives that are effected by inserting a power plant.

    I agree to some extent with Mike (post above) than I’d rather have a few brownouts — I think that would drive home the point that we need to conserve.

    In Lorinc’s book, Ontario consumes 60% per person more than New York state residents. If we cut back our energy consumption first, THEN made a decision on a power plant, I’d be a little more sympathetic to building something down by the lake. It’s the same argument about roads — build more of them and congestion will ease up. We’ve been doing that for 50 years and that hasn’t worked. I don’t see how building more power plants is really going to help us cut our energy needs.

  5. There isn’t the transmission capabilities to get all the power into the city that Toronto needs.

    Without transmission upgrades the needed power has to be generated within the Toronto area itself.

    We have to be looking at this city’s needs not just now but for the next 20 years.

    There is a lot of information on this subject on the Ontario Hydro and Ontario Electricity news and reports pages.