It’s a Battery

Koh Samui Thailand, March 29, 2017

The Kodak Building on the Kodak Lands. (File)

Sometimes here at Weston Web we feel that we’re a voice in the wilderness as we battle the forces of darkness. Now and again though something happens to give us hope.

Ever since it was announced, we at Weston Web have been advocating against the gas powered generator planned for the old Kodak lands in Mount Dennis. The generator would have provided emergency power in the rare event of an outage for trains on the Eglinton Crosstown Line opening in 2021.

While most in our community knew that a polluting generator was a terrible idea, few knew that the generator was planned for routine use and not just for emergencies (it would require several minutes to fire up so operating all the time would eliminate the start-up delay).

Residents came out to meetings and demanded a green solution. Solar energy, while clean would not have provided nearly enough power to do the job; especially in winter (paving every square inch of the Kodak lands would not have been enough even at solar noon in summer). Gas proponents knew this and the generator looked like a done deal.

Then an idea took off.

Weston Web proposed battery power more than a year ago to Metrolinx’s Jamie Robinson as an alternative to a polluting generator. At the time, a battery solution was not on the table and hopelessly inadequate solar panels were seen as the only alternative. Instead of polluting the neighbourhood, a large scale battery can store power when it’s cheap overnight and use it during the day when needed. Battery technology is now up to the job and is set to transform the way electricity is delivered. For some time now, Mount Dennis has proposed that it become a net zero community. Battery technology fits right into this proposal.

Yesterday, Metrolinx announced that battery technology will provide emergency power to the Crosstown Line when needed.

What are the lessons to be learned from this political success story?

First it helps if a good idea is given a fair hearing (kudos to Metrolinx for being open to suggestions from the community).

Second, a strong political lobby group in the Mount Dennis Residents Association was able to bend politicians’ ears.

Third, an overall and compelling community theme that fits the agenda – in this case a net-zero community that all parties could buy into.

Lastly, and to blow our own trumpet just a little, community reporting can play a meaningful role in political decision making.

With this stunning success, Mount Dennis is well on its way to achieving the goal of being a net zero community.

Timeline:

February 2016: Battery technology suggested by Weston Web at community information meeting organized by Councillors Nunziata and DiGiorgio.

February 2016: MP Ahmed Hussen expresses concern at emission levels from a gas generator.

March 2016, Laura Albanese comes out in favour of a green technology solution.

May 2016: City staff call battery technology too expensive.

July 2016: Jason Rioux, Vice President of NRSTOR, confirmed at a Mount Dennis Community Association meeting that battery storage is capable of providing large scale emergency power.

March 2017: Metrolinx announces battery storage technology as an emergency power solution.

Selling out Sanctuary: Westonian’s article in Now

One of Weston’s finest, Ken Theobald, has an article in Now Magazine well worth the read.

On Queen one block east of Parliament, under a playground beside St. Paul’s Basilica, there’s a mass grave. Some 800 migrants escaping the Irish Famine were buried here, victims of a typhus epidemic in 1847. The cemetery that once occupied the site was closed in 1857, the tombstones destroyed. Now this mass grave is complicating school expansion plans.

York Rec Centre open… and it is good.

The York Rec Centre is open, and it is a 67,000 square-foot sunlit marvel.

The facilities include two swimming pools (one for toddlers), a weight room, programming space, a lovely gym, and an indoor track. It’s gorgeous and, even though it was opening weekend, surprisingly quiet.

The centre is open from 7 am until 10 pm, and entry and all programs are entirely free.

 

Butterfly garden volunteers needed.

1An astonishing 74 species of butterfly live in Toronto all year round, and many more are summertime visitors.

Patricia Videla has been trying to get a butterfly garden started in Weston, and has recently had news to set my heart aflutter: the city has given the first go-ahead.

To get the plan off the ground, she needs

  • Five volunteers
  • Some corporate donors
  • A volunteer landscape designer, perhaps a student from a landscape design class
  • A plan for maintaining it.

If you’re interested in being part of the kick-off team, email patriciavidela@gmail.com.