Group asks King to support outdoor solar panels

January 12, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Mark Pavilons

Establishing outdoor solar panels in parking lots has many benefits.
And it’s something a York-based group sees as picking up steam across the region.
Gloria Marsh, executive director of York Region Environmental Alliance, recently addressed King councillors, pitching the idea.
She explained that Pickering nuclear is scheduled to go out of service in 2025. Ramping up natural gas to provide electricity will not get us to the Canadian clean electricity goal of net-zero emissions before 2050. In fact, she argues it would raise our GHGE by more than 300%. Nor will small nuclear reactor proliferation fill the bill with their dangerous wastes and numerous security issues even though there is a push to develop them in Canada.
Furthermore, the full life cycle of small modular reactors does produce GHGE – twice as high as solar and six times higher than onshore wind. Marsh said York Region has vetoed SMNR and has sent a letter to the province asking for a natural gas fired electricity phase out, which YREA strongly supports.
“We already have a greener alternative with solar, available for immediate, safe energy,” she observed.
What if parking lots at our civic centres, libraries, community centres even our hospitals & shopping malls were shaded by solar panels? This would take commitment but municipalities in York could point the way for others to also try pilot projects. YREA sent a letter to the federal government asking that solar-covered parking lots be eligible for green infrastructure funding and have received a positive reply from her local MP saying it is a solid project, much needed at this time, helping to address the climate crisis.
A pilot project such as this would mean self-reliance on energy to power an adjacent building and it would also mitigate the urban heat island (UHI) by shading the hot asphalt and thus significantly lowering the ambient temperature by up to 20°C.
Marsh said it’s a better option than erecting solar panels on agricultural grasslands.
“Why would we want to do that when we have all this hot asphalt on developed land just waiting to be cooled down? Imagine for instance, the parking lot of the Trisan Centre generating enough renewable energy to power it as well as some EV charging stations,” she said.
This is not a new, unproven concept.
“When I ask King council, on behalf of YREA, to endorse a solar covered parking lot pilot project, I also walk the talk in support of renewable energy.”
She said YREA hopes that along with York, Newmarket and Georgina that King will also look into this.
“With the energy required for new developments and the increase in electric vehicles, even if we make a sensible move to buy hydro from Quebec it will be prudent for us to also secure local, safe sources of green energy to meet our needs.”
Councillor Debbie Schaefer said it sounds like a feasible idea. She can envision some great partnerships arising from this plan.
Mayor Steve Pellegrini, who attended the recent FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) conference in Ottawa, said climate change is front and centre on everyone’s mind. He said a task force is needed to examine all kinds of green measures. Specific goals and ways to get there all need to be explored.
Going green is a combination of all forms of power generation and we can’t just rely on wind and solar alone, he said.
“Greater minds are looking into this,” he said.
York Region Environmental Alliance (YREA) is a not-for-profit, registered charitable organization. Incorporated in 2002 to initially campaign against the cosmetic use of pesticides, YREA has continually expanded its mandate to address ecological issues that impact our health, the health of our environment and the planet.
They seek sustainable solutions that address climate change and lower greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE). They also work to raise awareness of the impact of toxic substances on the environment and on human health and to campaign for the elimination of these substances.



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