Save Georgian Bay

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A proposed $3.3 billion hydroelectric pumped storage plant by TransCanada Energy (TCE) in Meaford, Ontario, on DND Government land, if allowed to proceed, will change the lives of Georgian Bay residents and visitors, and disrupt the natural beauty of Georgian Bay and the Niagara Escarpment FOREVER!

The plant will pump water from Georgian Bay up the Niagara Escarpment to a man-made reservoir. The plant will then release the water back down the escarpment through turbines into Georgian Bay to produce electricity. The rate at which the water is pumped and released from and to Georgian Bay is huge—almost half the average flow over Niagara Falls.

TCE modelled this plant after one built-in Ludington, Michigan. The Ludington plant was approved for construction in the 1960s when we had less awareness about the environment. After a 12-year court battle, the Ludington plant was required to construct a 2-kilometre net and to pay millions in compensation to mitigate for the impacts it caused. The plant still kills millions of fish each year because of the enormous volume of water that it draws from the lake. In essence, the plant serves as a giant food processor, mashing fish drawn into the turbines to satisfy its insatiable thirst.

It is inconceivable that TCE proposes to construct a plant originated on a design from the 1960s. This shows a complete lack of understanding or concern about the environment.

To protect their investment, TCE will construct a huge concrete intake/outfall and three breakwaters extending from and parallel to the shoreline. These structures will be amongst the largest man-made structures in Georgian Bay. They will rival the pier in Collingwood for size. Yet, unlike the pier, these structures will be for the sole pleasure of TCE and will offer no recreational benefits to residents or visitors of Georgian Bay. Instead, they will destroy a stretch of beautiful pristine shoreline, restrict the passage of fish, wildlife and even small boats, interrupt the natural movement of sediment along the shoreline, cloud our beautifully clear waters, and smother fish spawning and rearing habitats.

The pipeline that conveys water to and from the man-made reservoir will extend approx. 1.7 kilometres inland, cutting a corridor up the Niagara Escarpment—one of the world’s natural wonders that it has been recognized as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Residents of the region have worked tirelessly to conserve and preserve this unique biosphere for the benefit of all—all residents, all visitors, all flora and fauna. Instead, the pipeline corridor will be stripped bare of all life in search of profit by one company, TCE.

The plant requires electricity to operate even though it produces electricity. In fact, it will consume 30% more electricity than it produces. This electricity will come from nuclear power plants and gas-fired generating stations. This means greater demand for nuclear energy, not less, and greater potential for carbon emissions, not less.

The electricity supplied to the plant will come from new high voltage transmission lines to be run through the beautiful residential properties and farmlands of Grey County and Essa Township. This extends the area impacted by the proposed plant far beyond the shoreline of Georgian Bay.

When fully operational, the plant will employ 15. That’s right, only 15 people will be employed by a plant that will forever scar the face of Georgian Bay and the Niagara Escarpment. But these few jobs pale in comparison to the employment loss associated with tourism, recreation and residential growth that only exist because of the natural beauty of the lands and waters TCE intends to exploit.

TCE intends to build a facility based on the design of a plant from the 1960s. It’s now 2019. Perhaps TCE executives should speak with Elon Musk (or any fifth grader). He could share wisdom about the new technologies for energy storage and conservation. These new technologies are compatible with the environment and can be built at smaller scales and located closer to the distribution grid eliminating the need for all of the proposed infrastructure.

What TCE is proposing will forever impact the Georgian Bay and Niagara Escarpment. Fish spawning habitat will be replaced with massive stone breakwaters and concrete structures. Bird habitat and nesting areas will be destroyed along the pipeline and transmission corridors. The clarity of the water that makes this area of Georgian Bay so beautiful will become turbid with silt and clay by the endless ebb and flow of water to and from the plant.

We all share a responsibility to protect the natural beauty and unique ecology of Georgian Bay and Niagara Escarpment. If you agree, please get involved. Tell your neighbour. Sign the petition. Phone your local town council, provincial representative, and federal candidate. Make this an election issue. Let your thoughts be known to all those who will ultimately decide on the outcome of this plant. Together, let’s protect our environment for our future and our children’s future.

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