Lake Ontario Waterkeeper Comments re: Proposed wind anemometer in Lake Ontario off Scarborough Bluffs
Toronto Hydro Energy Services (THES) has proposed to erect an anemometer approximately 1.2 km offshore from the Scarborough Bluffs in Lake Ontario. An anemometer is a testing device that would collect data on wind speed and variability. The anemometer would operate for 24 months to collect “wind resource data for the purpose of detailed design and ﬁnancing of a potential wind farm”. THES hopes to use this data to develop plans for a wind plant in the same location.
The anemometer would be mounted on a triangular platform that is 5 metres per side, 12.2 metres deep, and 4 metres above the water surface. It would stand on three legs secured to the lakebed on concrete foot beds. At the end of the 24-month period, the anemometer would be decommissioned and removed from the lake.
The proposed anemometer would be built approximately 1.2 kilometres offshore from the Scarborough Bluffs. The Bluffs are an impressive set of sheer cliffs reaching up from the lake. They represent the shoreline of Lake Iroquois, a slightly larger version of Lake Ontario that existed as glaciers retreated at the end of the last ice age. The densely populated Scarborough neighbourhood sits above the Bluffs, and the area is used extensively for recreation by residents and visitors. Below the Bluffs, Lake Ontario provides ﬁsh and wildlife habitat, recreation for ﬁshers, boaters and swimmers, and drinking water for the communities built all around the lake, including the City of Toronto.
All beds of navigable waters are crown land according to the “Beds of Navigable Waters Act”. Therefore, THES requires a “disposition” of the land from the Crown before anything can be built in the lake. Dispositions of this sort are subject to a Category B Class Environmental Assessment by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR).
The anemometer proposal is currently undergoing the required MNR Class EA. The MNR has assigned this proposal to Category B, which involves ﬁve steps: Scoping, Public Notice, Project Evaluation, Notice of Completion, and Statement of Completion/Implement Project. The Notice of Commencement was announced in newspaper advertisements and letters to politicians, boating clubs, First Nations groups, and environmental groups in August 2008.
In October 2008, THES attempted to host a public meeting on the proposal, but hundreds of people arrived who could not ﬁt into the reserved space. In November 2008, THES tried once again to hold a public meeting, this time in a larger forum. More than 1200 people attended the meeting, many arriving in busses paid for by environmental groups.The resulting long lines at the microphones made it impossible for many community members to speak or ask questions. In January 2009, THES held a “residents-only” public meeting.
The proposal is currently at the ‘Notice of Completion’ stage, such that the MNR could approve the anemometer project following receipt of comments on May 14, 2009. Alternatively, the Minister of the Environment has the power to issue a Part II Order for an Individual Environmental Assessment (IEA).
Read the entire submission by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper to the Ministry of the Environment here