Koh Samui Thailand, March 29, 2017
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.
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.
March 2017: Metrolinx announces battery storage technology as an emergency power solution.