Choosing sides: Energy in the Port Lands

I think last Wednesday I entered the spin zone and I still haven't found my way out.

I ventured out to Matty Eckler Community Centre to gain some information about a proposed pipeline that will carry natural gas from Enbridge's Station B Regulator Station to a yet to be built site near the Hearn Generating Station in the Port Lands.

Dry stuff I know but listening to members of theToronto Energy Coalition explain why this plant will tip the scale towards their neighbourhood becoming one of the most toxic areas in the city had me feverously cursing Dalton McGuinty.

That is until I went inside.

I followed the signs inside of the community centre that lead to a large room lined with posters detailing the project. Enbridge's staff looked sharp and were on point when explaining the benefits of the new generating station and the minimal effects of laying a new pipeline, up Booth Ave. from Unwin Ave. to Lake Shore Blvd. E., will have on the environment.

I asked my questions and when I finished hearing the talking heads tell me their plans I felt maybe I was too harsh on McGuinty earlier.

But there was and still are two things I can't reconcile.

1) This project has hit a point where it's all or nothing. Either big energy wins and gets to build whatever it is they want or the enivronmentalists win by dropping a big green bomb on the whole idea. Where's the compromise? I know in politics there are winners and losers but there are other feasible options in reducing the city's energy burden. Why are those ideas being kept off the table?

2) Both sides firmly claimed that the local community fully supports them in their initiative. Enter the spin doctors and exit my grip on reality. Maybe I'm naive but i know there's no way the group of people effected by this project are firmly in both corners of the dispute. I expected the spin to come from big energy but not from the activist group.

What it all means to me is that we keep trapping ourselves in these all-or-nothing scenarios that nothing good can come from. If it's possible to have meaningful dialogue between citzens, elected officials and industry maybe there's a solution where me, you and the guy down the street aren't paying with our health or with extra cash from our terribly thin wallets.

Just a thought even though it may be on the idealistic side.

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