Toronto waterfront wind project deemed okay for environment

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The adverse effects of installing wind turbines on Toronto's waterfront are "not likely to be significant" according to an environmental assessment by the government. The Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC) and Toronto Hydro Energy Services plan to install up to three turbines near the city's downtown. A request for proposals for the first has been issued and the joint venture partners hope to break ground early this year (Windpower Monthly, December 2000). "The federal government's confidence in this project, is, we hope, a fresh sign of environmental leadership," says TREC's Bryan Young. As a result of its assessment, however, Environment Canada has placed some conditions on the project. Because of the waterfront's "extremely rich" bird life, monitoring of bird mortality and disturbance must take place for at least a year following installation. The report also requires a number of noise mitigation measures and noise assessment after installation. The conditions echo concerns by some Toronto residents. But Joyce McLean of Toronto Hydro is confident that neither turbine noise or bird mortality will be a problem. "The background sound level in an average urban residential neighbourhood is significantly higher than that of the wind turbines," she says, pointing out that all proposed turbine sites are at least 250 metres from the nearest residence. When it comes to bird mortality, she says, research also shows that "low buildings, houses, even household cats, kill more birds than wind turbines." Following release of the federal decision in December, the provincial government announced its own approval of the project.

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