Today’s East York Mirror and Car Advertiser carried three interesting snippets. On page two was a correction regarding last week’s story, that “erroneously reported that a plan to build new Hydro transmission lines through Scarborough and down Pape Avenue was a preferred option of the Ontario Power Authority OPA).”
On page three, in a story by our cycling buddy David Nickle, the headline read: “Hydro line will not go down Pape, other options remain.”
And finally on page four cyclist Joe Cooper, who was at the same meeting as us a few days back (where MPP Peter Tabuns and Paula Fletcher, together with Jack Gibbons of Ontario Clean Air Alliance and the lawyer from Sack Goldblatt Mitchell (you will know them as the team that worked to defeat Ontario Power Authority in its bid to build a hydro corridor across the town of Markham), informed the two hundred or so assembled citizens of the new plan, to run a gazillion megawatt power line across the Danforth Peninsula–on Pape or on Donlands perhaps–to the new Portland Emissions Centre)–Joe Cooper in his “Watchdog” column delved into the history of power. His point was to remind his readers that the need for conservation is not new; that the desire for beauty has ever been in conflict with the landscape-despoiling effects of electrical power generation.
So now we have Energy Minister Dwight Duncan promising that Pape avenue is not under consideration for the power lines. As David Nickle notes however, “when Jack Gibbons of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance questioned [Steve Erwin, spokesperson for Duncan] about the matter… he asked specifically about neighbouring streets – Jones Avenue, Carlaw Avenue, or Leslie Street – Erwin wouldn’t rule it out.”
The fact is, wherever this harebrained scheme drops to earth, it’s still a bad idea. With a cost estimated at $600 million, OPA claims it will be needed by at least 2015–eight years from now–to provide the summer air conditioning needs of a growing Toronto.
They paint it as a choice between growth or no growth, but that’s not the choice. The choice is between a climate that’s hospitable to human beings and one that’s not. The choice is between stewardship of the planet and rampant, uncontrolled consumption. The choice is between the greater good–survival of the planet–and a terrible and short-sighted evil.
The term NIMBY is sure to be heard in this debate. But it’s not about NIMBYism. NIMBYs are hypocrites who reject something that’s for the greater good–something like social housing–only when it’s in their “back yard.” In this debate folks both support a greater good–energy conservation–and believe $600 million could be more wisely spent on programs to encourage it.
It’s not NIMBY to refuse programs in one’s “back yard” that despoil the landscape, reduce property values, and possibly cause leukemia and other disease, all for the sake of appeasing the basest instincts of humanity. Such programs would be a bad idea anywhere.