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Mississauga News - June 28, 2007 - By John Stewart
A blast takes care of the past
It took so long to blow up the powerhouse at Lakeview Generating Station this morning that Tim Hortons ran out of doughnuts "twice.
Most of the regulars, who have been down at the park bright and early for the past couple of days, were getting mighty restless by the time the 750 pounds of dynamite sheared off the partially-cut columns holding up the gigantic structure finally exploded just after 11 a.m.
A round of cheers went up from the McMillan Headland where spectators and media had gotten to know each other a little too well while waiting for hours for the big bang.
Cheryl Schnurr, who lives on nearby Hampton Cres., took the week off so she could witness the historic event.
"I booked the week off for vacation and I thought it would be one day to see the power plant knocked down and four days in the garden."
Instead, it was the other way around.
"We're all excited to see this," said Schurr. "This is the next logical step, to watch it go down."
The huge cloud of dust that was kicked up by the implosion showed why Ontario Power Generation officials and Murray Demolition, had to wait for offshore winds that would blow the mushroom cloud harmlessly out over the Lake and not into the surrounding neighbourhood.
One of those who came out yesterday to watch the demolition was Don Arsenault, 62, who moved to Lakeview when he was just five.
"I just came down to watch it go," he said. "I was here before it was built."
In fact, when he was 12 and the Rifle Ranges were still in use by the armed forces on what later became the Lakeview station lands, Arsenault used to collect $5 an hour in "danger pay" to set up targets for the soldiers. His father, who was working at Goodyear in New Toronto, was making $2.50 an hour at the time.
"Lakeshore (Rd.) was a little country road then," he said.
As reflected by the much smaller size of the crowd this year compared with the demolition of the stacks last year, people don't have the same emotional attachment to the powerhouse.
"The Four Sisters were always a landmark," said the Lakeshore Rd. resident. "My niece called them the Four Cigarettes."
The demolition means the beginning of a new era in Lakeview, without the buildings that defined its identity for so long.
"A lot of people are going to be relieved," said Arsenault.
Glenn Wells, 42, who grew up in Lakeview and hitchhikes from his home in Abbotsford B.C. every summer to see his mother, said he came again this year, "to see the rest of it go down. I think this one will be better, because the building is bigger," he told The News before the implosion.
Sixteen-year-old Jeff Evans grew up playing hardball on the diamonds such as Waterworks that lie in the shadow of the powerhouse. He is now an umpire at the parks. He had his father drop him off yesterday at 6:30 a.m. for the big event, which ended up being postponed.
"It's going to be a lot different after they blow it up, a lot more open," said the Cawthra Secondary School student.
"For one thing, there won't be a building to try and hit," he laughed.
He and some baseball friends came down to the closest park last week armed with bats and balls, to see if they had the power to reach the powerhouse with their best fungo shots. They didn't.
There were noticeably fewer people at this year's event, where Tim Hortons again provided coffee and doughnuts. There was so much left-over food that one red-winged blackbird decided he'd help himself until a couple of police officers shooed him away. Steve Dombey, vice-president of the Lakeview Ratepayers' Association said, "we're delighted that the powerhouse is coming down but we're deeply concerned about what comes next."
Despite intense efforts to get more details about the memorandum of agreement signed by Ontario Power Generation and Enersource to put a new gas-fired power plant on the property, "nobody will tell us," what is going to happen, Dombey said.
The ratepayers want health and environmental studies completed to prove there is no threat to the neighbourhood posed by a new plant. They postered the neighbourhood with signs that read, "No Health Study? No Power Plant!!!"
Having 200 acres of publicly-owned lands on the waterfront represents, "an incredible opportunity" for the city, the ratepayer executive said.
Tom Keys has been in Lakeview for 60 years and worked on one of the retrofits at the plant as a pipe fitter. He isn't fazed by the possibility of another power plant in the neighbourhood.
"We have to have power," says his wife Linda.
"Why buy power from the States when we can produce it here," says her husband.
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