As a landowner potentially impacted by the proposed pumped storage facility (Meaford resident) and an Ontario citizen, I wanted to share my input during the public comment period.
To be clear, I do not wish to come across as a NIMBY local resident, and with an undergrad in environmental studies from the University of Guelph, I find the concept fascinating and intriguing. However, having reviewed the publicly available information, I have numerous concerns with the current proposal and TC Energy.
1. Water turbidity and temperature. The scale of the project is breathtaking and it is inconceivable to believe that billions of gallons of water will move back and forth during relatively short time spans without negatively impacting water turbidity and temperature, and the harmful consequences that come with it. Thornbury water access was recently closed after a major storm, given water turbidity and elevated bacteria. This is a real threat to both human use and aquatic life.
2. Land Use. Ignoring that the proposal is changing the use intent of previously expropriated land, the proposed site is pristine escarpment and nationally treasured. As an Ontario citizen, I can not reconcile this land use with claimed 'green' intentions.
3. Ecosystem disruption. Pumps, the energy sources required to run them, and the infrastructure required to maintain the facility all contribute to negative noise and light pollution. This impacts local landowners and fauna in a real and negative way. This is not even considering the high tension power lines required to move the power to its destination.
4. Risk. While I am confident that you believe that the proposed solution is fool proof, having 6 billion gallons of water 150M above sea level creates a constant and real danger. I recall the incredible human feat being celebrated at the opening of the Three Gorges Dam in China and now read current news reports concerned with its potential collapse. Black swan events are real. We are all self-isolating due to one no one predicted 12 months ago.
5. Economic impact. While much of the talk is on the positive short-term economic impact of hundreds of temporary and transient jobs, there is little positive long-term benefit to the local economy. Any potential positive economic impact to the local economy pales in comparison to the negative impact that would result from a downturn in tourism should any of the environmental concerns be realized.
6. 'Green claims'. Let's be honest. This is not 'green'. Yes, the actual production of a MW of electricity will produce less harmful pollutants than coal- or gas-fired plants, but the energy use required to build this facility is staggering. Add in the negative impacts on the local environment and any 'green' claims are nullified.
7. Trust. I find it hard to trust TC Energy at this point in the process. The changes that have been made to the proposal based on community feedback are incredibly obvious and should have been in the initial proposal. I am left wondering if the first proposal was a shoddy straw man designed to demonstrate that TC would listen to the community and adjust to the proposal they should have led with - or it was simple incompetence that led to the initial design. Either way, I am not left with much faith in TC Energy or the steering committee for this project.
Reviewing the above, I can not see how this is positive to the local community, the environment, or the citizens of Ontario.
Mark Bergen, Meaford & Mono, ON