Peaker plant fight gains supporter
Green Party leader joins local farmers opposing location
By Teresa Latchford yorkregion.com
Holland Marsh farmers are hoping others will stand with them to fight the construction of the King peaker plant.
The construction of Pristine Power Inc.’s York Energy Centre, a 393-megawatt natural gas-fired peaker plant designed to relieve the demand from local power grids in peak periods, won’t only affect local farmers, but will be a problem for every Ontarian, local farmer and Holland Marsh Growers Association member Avia Eek said.
“We feed Ontario, so it will affect every person,” she said, adding crops are also exported outside the province.
Farmers and other plant opponents were joined by provincial Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner behind Holland Marsh District Christian School Friday as they used the peaker plant’s future site as the backdrop for the launch of a new provincewide campaign encouraging others to oppose building the plant on some of Ontario’s most bountiful farm land.
“We’re not saying we don’t need (the facility),” local farmer Doug Van Luyk said. “We’re saying it’s in the wrong place.”
The argument has been ongoing since plans for the industrial facility were proposed, placing it just 200 metres from a school, on government-protected land and in a bowl where farmers produce 40 per cent of the nation’s onions and carrots, 25 per cent of the celery and almost all of Toronto’s locally produced Asian greens.
The Holland Marsh produces $50 million worth of Ontario’s food supply and opponents say no one knows the long-term effects the plant will have on the area.
“Even if it was pushing up butterflies and daisies in emissions, there will be enough heat emitted to change the micro-climate we enjoy here,” Ms Eek said. “We are only one of three places in Ontario with a unique micro-climate.”
Mr. Schreiner attended a January meeting to discuss the peaker plant as well as one that followed with former environment minister George Smitherman, but he said the concerns voiced by the community have fallen on deaf ears. He has since joined forces with others opposed to the plant to demand the provincial government reconsider the placement of the industrial facility, he said.
“One of the government’s most important responsibilities is to work with citizens in planning for a future that strengthens our communities, sustains our prosperity and promotes our health and well-being,” he said. “This peaker plant flies in the face of those responsibilities.”
He spoke of the growing demand from Ontario families for locally produced products and fears construction of this plant will have a negative impact on local growing conditions and crops.
“It is time for citizens, farmers and everyone who enjoys food grown in Ontario to come together with a strong, united voice that the government can’t ignore,” Mr. Schreiner said.
For more information about the campaign, visit www.gpo.ca and follow the standing up link.