Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Nimby In November

Controversy continues to rage over a proposal to site wind turbines in Lake Ontario off the Scarborough Bluffs.

According to November 25th Toronto Star more than 1,000 people turned out for an ”information” meeting at Wilfrid Laurier School on the Guildwood Parkway last night. It is not clear whether much information was conveyed but it appears there was no shortage of opinions.

At this stage, as I understand it, Toronto Hydro Energy Services is merely asking to place a small weather station on a platform in the lake to see if wind turbines in this location would be feasible.

Meanwhile, according to the St. Thomas Times Journal, residents are unhappy about a proposed solar farm that OptiSolar Farms Canada wants to build just west of Belmont near London. When complete the project would provide 20 megawatts of electricity, enough to supply 3,000 homes.

“Already, some neighbours are grumbling about it, ” reports the paper.

OptiSolar vice-president Peter Carrie concedes is the project presents "a great challenge." No kidding!

A little closer to us in Nanticoke radiation specialist Doug Boreham has been hired by Bruce Power as “a key player” at open houses related to the proposed construction of two nuclear reactors. Open houses will be held in Simcoe, Jarvis, Port Dover and Cayuga.

The Simcoe Reformer quotes Power: "One of the biggest obstacles we have to overcome on these projects are people's fears of radiation." Indeed.

I could go on. The news is full of this stuff but, hey, I’m too busy getting my objections ready to a site plan application for the redevelopment of the Appleby Mall – a property in my back yard. There is a meeting tonight.

I’m not sure what this is all about, but it can’t be good.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Public Transit in America

Jeff Gray writes a column in the Globe and Mail called Dr. Gridlock. Yesterday(November 17th) he talked about how in several state and local referendums on November 4th Americans actually voted to increase their taxes and put money into public transit.

The data was put together by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (go to www.artba.org and click on Economics and Research).

Thirty-two (32) ballot measures in seventeen (17) states asked for new or increased taxes. Twenty five (25) of these passed. That’s a 78% success rate. Interesting, isn’t it?

I was curious so I thought I’d look at this analysis to see what was going on south of the border.

A Look at the Data

By my count there were eight local initiatives to enhance public transit at taxpayer’s expense. (Many of the others were classified as “transportation” but I just looked at those that were clearly transit related.) Five of these passed. An example: Voters in the Puget Sound Washington area gave the thumbs up to a $17.9 billion to extend regional bus and light rail service in the communities of Lakewood, Tacoma and Seattle. The vote was 59% in favour.

There were also three statewide initiatives approved. Voters in California, Hawaii and Rhode Island supported projects that will cost taxpayers billions.

Jeff Gray quotes a former Toronto head planner who thinks we need to start playing catch up in Toronto and, I think, it is fair to say right across the GTA and Hamilton.

Paul Bedford says:

“I understand the politicians don’t want to touch any of those ideas in the current economic environment. All I’ve been saying is, let’s not wait five years to start talking about it.”

It looks like average Americans are beginning to appreciate the environmental and economic imperatives that compels us to invest in public transit. I’m thinking average Canadians probably feel the same way.


Friday, November 07, 2008

Other Places

Someone once, I’ve forgotten whom, taught me about that there are really four “R’s” in the waste management hierarchy. Refuse actually trumps the better-known actions Reduce Reuse, and Recycle.

This seems to me now as one of those things we learned in life that is actually so basic that it is hard to believe that we really need to learn it in the first place. I could be wrong.

Take civic leaders in St. John’s Newfoundland who have decided, according to Canadian Press, that there’s not enough money in the coffers to start a curbside recycling program this year.

Yes, I said start.

The capital of Canada’s most easterly province (and a “have” province to boot) does not yet have a curbside recycling program. They are hoping to get started in 2010. For his part Danny Williams’ government is aspiring to have a curbside recycling in place across Newfoundland and Labrador by 2020, the year Sarah Palin completes her second term as President of the U.S.A. After 2020 when Newfoundlanders have mastered the least desirable “R” in the hierarchy perhaps they will move on to bigger things.

Maybe we’re not doing so badly here after all.