Both Weston and Mount Dennis have had some rare opportunities to produce home runs and make something positive out of the wreckage of several decades of decline. One of the potential areas for renewal is the 23 hectare (a hectare is about the size of a baseball diamond), former Kodak site which holds dear memories for many residents. The land has been vacant for years but was bought by Metrolinx in 2012 with a desire to turn it into a maintenance and storage yard for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. The community as well as Toronto Council’s Executive Committee thought that there might be better uses for the land; ones that would provide meaningful jobs, attractive buildings, green space and help revive the area through some careful planning. In 2013, City Council directed Metrolinx to hold community consultations regarding other possible uses. Cue the meetings to placate residents with lots of attractive artists’ impressions.
Fast forward to this month. Perhaps something slipped by me while I was away but I don’t recall any discussion of an electrical generating plant being placed on the Kodak Lands until Thursday’s council meeting.
Apparently a unique feature of the $9.1 billion winning bid awarded to Crosslinx was the on-site installation of a back-up generator that would keep the line running if power failed elsewhere in the city.
This is not the type of mixed use development that the community has been asking for over the past few years. Now that the cat is out of the bag, apparently Councillor Nunziata and MPP Laura Albanese are pressing to ensure that the generating station runs on some kind of green energy source.
Modern day generators run on natural gas which is mainly methane and burns to produce carbon dioxide and water. It is the cleanest fossil fuel. What alternative green fuel sources are there? One would imagine solar and wind power are out of the question given the constraints of the site and the hopefully infrequent need to power up the thing. Biodiesel would produce far more pollution than natural gas and there’s not much else that would qualify. Not even burning some of those attractive architectural drawings or old city hall memos. Seriously, anything other than a plain old natural gas generator would add enormously to the cost and is no doubt a non-starter; especially for something that would only run in emergencies. Still, you can’t blame the two ladies for gamely trying to put a green face on things and look as if they’re fighting for residents even though there’s no realistic alternative.
It might be better if Ms. Nunziata and Ms. Albanese spent their time fighting to include the features that residents have been asking for on this list. Perhaps a Council motion similar to this one regarding the Finch LRT maintenance and storage facility.
Post Script: Mike Mattos of the Mount Dennis Community Association tells me I shouldn’t be so tough on Councillor Nunziata as she and Councillor Frank DiGiorgio did shepherd these 9 principles for the Kodak lands through Council back in September 2013.
Point taken. Let’s hope Toronto City Council can stick to them.