“How do we make the world sustainable in 50 years?”
That’s probably not a question you expect your local municipal councillor to be posing, but it’s one Jim Tovey has been thinking about for quite a long time.
A few minutes after they cut the cake to officially launch the Lakeview Waterfront Connection last Saturday, on the kind of a crisp autumn afternoon where you’d have loved to be biking, running or hiking along that future stretch of pastoral lakefront de-stresser, Tovey was busy proselytizing for his next big project: a sustainability research innovation centre for the lakefront.
It might be easy for a guy to rest on his laurels after a decade that included: re-energizing a ratepayers’ group in a disaffected “dirty little corner” of the city to prevent what looked like a foregone conclusion to replace the Four Sisters with Big Brother’s gas-fired-power plant, co-draft (with the help of Professor John Danahy) a progressive arts/industrial/residential/educational/ environmental blueprint for development of the former power plant property and spearhead a $60 million Peel Region plan to use a decade’s worth of surplus landfill from building projects to create a luscious natural wildlife spa, put the waterfront trail back on the waterfront and create a 55-ft. promontory lookout over Lake Ontario.
Those goals, which all seemed like fantasy politics in gestation, are ambitious enough.
The councillor is now turning his energy towards another critical puzzle piece in creating the “complete” neighbourhood in the “complete” city – a research centre that will figure out the best ways to minimize the impact of man’s development on the landscape.
“We want to create a model of sustainability and this is a great opportunity to learn,” he says.
He calls it the perfect venue – a brownfield redevelopment sandwiched between one of the most advanced water plants in the country and “the most advanced wastewater plant in the world,” where doctoral university students have already been doing research for three years.
“We barely use chlorine on the water anymore. We use ozone and ultraviolet. Our wastewater plant uses an anaerobic digester . We haven’t closed a beach in the past three years and we monitor after every rainfall,” he says.
A grant for the $250,000 business case study for the research centre was announced Saturday by Mississauga South MPP Charles Sousa. One of its first tasks may be evaluating a district energy system for Inspiration Lakeview by using surplus heat from sewage processing to supply power to surrounding subdivisions.
The centre, which will anchor the “innovation corridor” in the plan, could also study best practices for brownfield redevelopment, (i.e. Imperial Oil lands), review the open storm water canals proposed to replace conventional pipes in the Lakeview project and provide cost-benefit studies of wetlands being re-created at the mouths of Applewood and Serson Creeks.
Potential partners coming on board could include U of T. Waterloo, Guelph and Sheridan Institute, the Ontario Clean Water Assoc. and Great Lakes research centres in Hamilton and Michigan.
“Everything’s on this site, the brownfields between a water plant and a wastewater plant, with the Great Lakes right in front of us and a 2000-ft. pier. This whole thing’s a giant lab.”
Thanks to the efforts of Tovey and his Ward 1 predecessor Carmen Corbasson, the planning is in place to make Lakeview the poster child of the green economy.
With the pending Great Lakes public forum in Toronto and major infrastructure funding about to flow from Ottawa, the dirty little corner is about to be seen in a brand new light.