Members of the group Toronto East Residents for Renewable Energy rallied at Jimmie Simpson Park on Saturday to oppose the expansion of the Portlands fossil gas plant.
Operators of the plant, Atura Power, announced plans to increase use of the facility in early October.
The company said in a release the expansion is intended to allow parts of the existing natural gas-fired combustion turbines to be replaced with more efficient parts.
The march by Toronto East Residents for Renewable Energy (TERRE) was held as part of the global “Power Up Day of Action” on Nov. 4 to advocate for climate solutions.
Residents who live near the plant on Toronto’s waterfront are demanding the expansion of Portlands Energy Centre be terminated.
Adrian Currie, program manager for Environmental Defence, referred to the proposed expansion as “egregious.”
“Why are we using energy sources that are last century, when we have energy sources available now which won’t produce any impacts on climate change?” Currie said.
Portlands Energy Centre is now the number one source of greenhouse gasses in Toronto, according to Environmental Defence.
Advocates are also asking for strong government action on clean electricity and climate justice overall.
One east end resident at the event, Joyce McLean, said the city could be doing a lot more to promote renewable energy.
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“The rest of the world is going renewable, and our government is proposing a 50-megawatt expansion at this plant,” she said.
McLean also stressed the importance of citizen voices in these matters, saying, “the people who live here don’t want this.”
Toronto-Danforth MPP Peter Tabuns said that the expansion plan does not make economic sense and that he wants residents of Toronto to understand the damaging effects the expansion could have.
“My hope is that people will understand the damage Doug Ford is doing, (and) will understand that there are very practical alternatives, inexpensive alternatives, to what he’s bringing forward,” he said.
One of the organizers of the rally, David Smith, said the city needs to “power up the renewables, and power down the gas.”
As of 2021, thirty-four Ontario municipalities have passed resolutions calling on the Government of Ontario to phase out fossil gas plants by 2030, according to the Ontario Clean Air Alliance.
City Coun. Paula Fletcher said that when the plant was built in 2008, residents referred to it as “the mistake by the lake.”
“Now this government is planning to make an even bigger mistake by the lake,” she said.
This rally comes just a few weeks before world leaders are set to meet in Dubai for a global climate summit.
Global News has reached out to Atura Power for comment but did not receive a response ahead of publication.