Photography Drive bridge coming down this Friday.

The bridge and the iconic Kodak recreation building as they looked in March 2012
The bridge over Eglintaon Avenue and the iconic Kodak recreation building as they looked in March 2012

This weekend the bridge over Eglinton Avenue will be demolished to eventually make way for the new Mount Dennis Crosstown Station. The bridge has been closed for well over a decade.  The demo will necessitate the closing of Eglinton between Black Creek and Weston road between 9pm this Friday (19th February) and 11pm on Sunday (21st). For more information look herehere and at the video below.

Magical Thinking at Environmental Defence

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Credit: Shutterstock.

As Adam has pointed out, an organization known as Environmental Defence is petitioning Metrolinx, opposing an 18MW natural gas generator proposed for the Kodak lands. Metrolinx claims that the generator will provide power to the Eglinton Crosstown LRT system in case of a blackout and to supplement Ontario Hydro’s grid during peak periods in the summer when air conditioning put a strain on capacity.

Unfortunately, the petition incorrectly implies that the new Crosstown line will be powered full-time by the generator. It does suggest quite rightly that the roof of the new building that will store and maintain LRT trains would be an ideal place for solar panels. Unfortunately solar is notoriously inefficient (20% is considered good) and is not up to this job.

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Nellis solar panel plant in Nevada.

Let’s do a reality check. In Nevada, where the sun shines fairly reliably, and stronger than in Ontario, the Nellis solar plant occupies 140 acres or 57 hectares of land. In ideal conditions, it produces 13 MegaWatts which is 5 MW shy of the 18 MW needed to power the Crosstown system. The whole of the Kodak Lands (let alone a building’s roof) is only 23 Hectares. Rooftop panels are therefore a laughable suggestion for this purpose.

Fighting for solar panels is a wasted effort and Environmental Defence should have done their homework before starting a petition that Metrolinx and the Ontario Government can now dismiss out of hand. Even if every square inch of the Kodak Lands was covered in solar panels, only a small fraction of the needed power would be available during a grid blackout (on that proverbial sunny day).

Without wishing to keep repeating the same argument, the community needs to fight the generator in a rational way; not based on magical or wishful thinking.

Kodak Lands Generator – the issues and a solution

The Kodak Lands as they currently exist.
A map of the Kodak Lands as they currently exist.

Let me add a further two cents to this debate as I have been missing in action for a while thanks to some nasty post Christmas bugs that have laid the Murray household low.

There has been some controversy over what will be placed on the Kodak Lands at Eglinton and Black Creek. There was dismay when Metrolinx announced that the site was to be a storage yard for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. More recently further disappointment was the response to the surprise announcement that an electrical generating station would be built on the lands. This would allegedly fire up in the event of a power failure. As a response, there were calls to make the generating station produce power from ‘green’ sources.

There are main three issues to the story;

  1. Whether or not a generator should be built on the former Kodak Lands
  2. The ‘greenness’ of the generator
  3. Whether there will be ’emergency only’ or a daily use of the generator

1. Let’s agree that a generator is a terrible use of the Kodak lands – it’s bad enough to have a storage yard occupy this precious green space. Unfortunately it’s likely a done deal so let’s move to the second point.

2. As I mentioned in a previous article, green power is in its infancy with the main barriers being the unreliable nature of solar and wind power. Storage is therefore needed for these unreliable and expensive green sources and even then, there would be days, especially in winter when sunlight and wind would be absent.

3. With the prospect of a daily firing up of the generator, all bets are off. A daily emission of carbon dioxide and particulate matter from burning natural gas would be produced. This would be done when electricity is at its most expensive, namely during rush hours, adding to pollution from cars and factories.

Bottom line; A generator is a bad idea. If Metrolinx is insistent on having a generator, the community should fight tooth and nail to ensure that it will be used for emergencies only. It should not be used to provide cheap electricity on a daily basis.

Solution: Large Scale Storage

With compact and reasonably priced electrical storage, a generator isn’t needed; just a series of very large battery modules that would be charged overnight when, as Adam has shown, there is oodles of very cheap industrial electricity (produced mainly from non-polluting hydro and nuclear sources). As technology stands at the moment, large scale batteries or indeed other storage methods are expensive but then, so is a gas-powered generator and the pollution it creates. Storage is expected to rapidly become cheaper as technology improves.

Bottom Line

If Metrolinx really wants a community based solution and daily, inexpensive, pollution-free electricity, the better bet would be a large scale battery that would soak up virtually free industrial electricity overnight for use in peak periods during the day. This pollution-free solution would not need to be on the Kodak Lands but could be on an industrial site anywhere along the line. This could demonstrate Metrolinx’ commitment to a greener energy, the Weston-Mount Dennis community and a willingness to adopt an exciting new technology.

I’m charged up about this.

Mt Dennis power-plant drawing ire

What does “a handful” mean?

More details are emerging about the ‘backup’ natural gas power plant that may be installed in the Kodak Lands in Mount Dennis. It does not sound good. The plant will not be run only in the case of power outage. It will be run to avoid paying full price for electricity, according to an excellent article in The Star.

The gas-fired plant would probably only be used a “handful” of times a year as a back-up generator, according to Metrolinx.

It would have the capacity to run the entire Crosstown system to avoid peak demand times on the provincial power grid and save about 40 per cent on the price of electricity. It would also generate enough power to run the entire Crosstown system in a power outage, said a spokesman for the agency.

Those two statements do not agree. Power prices regularly change 40% or more.

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Hourly prices for Ontario wholesale electricity. Note that they jump more than 40% from the lowest point every day.

This raises a horrifying possibility: that this power plant will be run regularly, perhaps daily. Former MP Mike Sullivan raised that issue in an Fired up over a new gas plant in our community:

It is unreasonable to expect it will only run in ’emergencies’.  It will generate power to the provincial grid whenever it is profitable to do so. 

Indeed, it is hard to imagine that a responsible fiscal manager would not run the plant at every opportunity. How could she leave a profit-generating asset sitting idle?

The David Suzuki foundation says that natural gas plants produce ground-level ozone and particulate matter, which contribute to smog and respiratory illnesses.

Don’t ask about the bill for SmartTrack

John Tory’s SmartTrack proposal—and its Mount Dennis section in particular—continues to draw heat.

Torontoist has some details that were missing from the report released late last year: the bill.

But what was not included in the HDR report—at least not the version released to the public—was how much the various “western spur” routes would cost. The City has in fact received cost estimates for all potential routes; they were included in the HDR report. Chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat confirmed that. But we, the public, have not seen them, and City officials refuse to explain why that is the case.

The answer to the question of why is fairly obvious: the numbers are bad. They are very bad.

According to The Star, nobody will say how much the section through Mount Dennis will cost, but it’s likely to be expensive. The author, Jennifer Pagliaro, strongly insinuates that City Hall is trying to keep the costs secret.

The ‘Western Spur’ will require, according to WestonWeb’s ‘analysis‘ demolishing at least 51 homes and difficult construction. Parts would have to be cut-and-covered (not tunnelled, no matter what anybody tells you); the section through Eglinton Flats will have to be put on stilts.Victorias_stövel_med_sporre_-_Livrustkammaren_-_6630.tif

The Globe heard estimates of the cost of the western portion: $5 billion—which raises “new questions about the viability of doing the entire project for the $8-billion Mr. Tory promised”.

 

Mount Dennis to become eco neighbourhood

Mount Dennis is trying on the idea of becoming an “Eco Neighbourhood” with the goal of being having a more  “resilient, livable, equitable, healthy, and prosperous future with a much smaller community environmental footprint”.

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The MDCA is looking at a plan that will include low-cost, high-impact activities like tree planting, markets, street events, and partnerships.

Remember Leonard Arthur

Able Seaman Leonard Arthur was from Mount Dennis. The 22-year-old son of Freeman and Alice died in the St Lawrence River when the HMCS Charlottetown was sunk on September 11, 1942. He died within sight of shore.

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A German U-Boat, the U-517, sank the Charlottetown in broad daylight as she was returning to base; it stalked Canadian ships in the Gulf of St Lawrence in September, 1942, sinking nine before she returned to Europe.

Most of the crew survived. Leonard Arthur was probably killed when the depth charges the boat was carrying exploded as the ship sank.

Arthur’s name, along with the names of 54 other young men from the community, is inscribed on the memorial plaque which hangs in Weston CI.


Thanks to Anne and the  Weston Alumni Association.