Power struggle in the Marsh
By Sharon Lem Toronto Sun
A gas-fired power plant built in Holland Marsh’s “salad bowl” farmland will put Ontario’s rich soil and green belt land in jeopardy, community leaders argue.
Community coalition groups have been outraged over the 393-megawatt plant since the Ontario Power Authority announced last December the power plant will be built by Jan. 1, 2012 on six acres in the Holland Marsh with the intent to ease electrical demands.
Yesterday, a provide-wide petition was launched at a community protest to oppose the natural gas plant.
“We think it’s the wrong location at the wrong time,” said Jamie Reaume, executive director of the Holland Marsh Grower’s Association. “The Ontario government wants to put an industrial complex into land where we grow edible crops on one of the most unique organic-based soils in all of Ontario.
“These toxins will go into the salad bowl of Ontario. We are known for growing speciality crops like romaine, onions, carrots and other salad vegetables,” Reaume said, adding there are 47 crops grown on 7,000 acres in Holland Marsh, on Dufferin St. north of Hwy.9.
“We are called Ontario’s salad bowl for a reason. We’re literally a bowl consisting of part of the Oak Ridges Morraine, part of the green belt and only one of two designated areas in Ontario for speciality crop designation,” Reaume said.
The Holland Marsh produces $50 million of Ontario’s locally grown food and is the source of 40% of Canada’s onions and carrots, 25% of the celery and almost all of Toronto’s Asian greens.
Debbie Schaefer, chair of the Concerned Citizens of King township, said all Ontarians should care.
“It’s so very wrong to build a heavy industrial power plant in a rural area where farmers grow the food we eat,” Schaefer said. “These greenbelt lands are supposed to be protected and it’s in contravention of the province’s policy statement of building infrastructure on agricultural land.”
Schaefer said the power plant’s technology only allows for it be 36% efficient – which means the rest of the gas goes up in the smoke stacks as heat and is wasted and unused.
Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner, who was at yesterday’s protest, said it’s irresponsible for the Ontario Liberal government to move forward with a project whose costs will likely increase due to fluctuations in natural gas prices.
“I’m asking the premier to issue an immediate moratorium on their plans to impose a gas-fired plant on the residents and farmers in Holland Marsh,” Schreiner said.
The Energy Ministry could not be reached for comment.
For more information or to sign the petition, log onto www.hollandmarshgold.com or call 905-251-6786.