York’s hydro needs studied

Power company looking at ways to keep feathered friends from flying into transmission lines

By Morgan Campbell
The Toronto Star, May 5, 2005

A new round of discussions to work out a solution to York Region’s looming electricity dilemma began last night at a public meeting.

About 800 residents attended the meeting at a Richmond Hill hotel and many of them made it clear the fight has just begun.

“Our numerous concerns were not withdrawn nor were they addressed by government ministries,” said Markham resident Sue Fusco, drawing loud applause.

“Communities should not be pitted against each other. This fiasco should not be allowed to repeat itself.”

Fusco is a member of Stop Transmission Lines Over People (STOP), a community group that has been vocal in opposing a plan by Hydro One.

About a year ago, Hydro One, which controls most of the province’s electricity transmission, released a joint study with local utilities showing that consumption in York was growing by 6.5 per cent a year.

Without access to more power, the region would suffer intermittent blackouts by 2007, the study found.

Hydro One had suggested upgrading the transmission lines that run from Markham to Newmarket, but public opposition forced them to back off while the authority studies the issue.

Opponents feared electromagnetic fields from high-capacity lines would cause health problems, including cancer.

Many people at the meeting felt Hydro One and the province had ignored their concerns about the impact of larger transmission lines and were skeptical about entering a new series of public hearings.

The meeting was hosted by the Ontario Power Authority, which is responsible for long-range planning for Ontario’s electricity supply.

Amir Shalaby, a vice-president with the authority, said this process will differ from Hydro One’s proposal because his agency isn’t limited to simply building bigger towers.

Shalaby hopes to finish public consultations by the end of the summer. When the agency decides on a solution, it must then get Ontario Energy Board approval.

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Elke Blodgett