Ontario needs jobs, now. And not just any kind of jobs. We need high skilled, high paid jobs, which create a long-term, stable platform upon which thousands of Ontarians can stand. How can we create these kinds of jobs? By beginning the construction of new nuclear reactors at the Darlington generating station east of Oshawa.
Oshawa is at the eastern end of what is called the Golden Horseshoe—the vast megalopolis, centred on Toronto, which wraps around the western end of Lake Ontario. This area is the economic engine of the province; in fact, it is the most economically vital area in Canada.
Starting the Darlington construction project would generate over three thousand jobs. I base this on the fact that there are over 3,300 people working on refurbishing units 1 and 2 at the Bruce nuclear station in Tiverton. That work involves retubing two of the eight CANDU reactors at Bruce, and is much different from what will be done at Darlington.
See the video below for an idea of what retubing involves. It’s a corporate video, complete with the cheeseball music that comes with all corporate videos. But still it’s pretty impressive:
Nevertheless, both refurbishment and new construction are major infrastructure projects, involving highly skilled specialists working in close coordination. Hence both refurbishments and new construction are enormous job creation engines.
Some quick facts about the new Darlington project. It will be:
- The biggest capital infrastructure project in North America.
- The biggest job creation engine in North America.
- The biggest clean energy project in North America. If Ontario were to get 2,000 megawatts of electricity from natural gas-fired plants, those plants would dump nearly 9 million tons of pollution into the air every single year.
Three thousand high paid workers in the Greater Oshawa Area, where Darlington is located, would inject an enormous positive economic boost into the local economy. Nuclear plants tend to do this; this may be why they are so popular with local communities.
Starting Darlington is a political decision. It basically rests on the Ontario premier and energy minister, whose party, the Ontario Liberals, barely squeaked back into government in the October 6 election.
The Liberals had 72 seats going into the election; today they have 53. Their most heavy losses were in rural ridings where wind power, which became an election issue, is extremely unpopular. Three Liberal cabinet ministers in rural ridings lost their seats.
Moreover, the plan to replace coal-fired generating plants with natural gas-fired ones has also been set back. Local opposition in Oakville and Mississauga killed gas plants in those communities. Nobody knows where else the plants will go.
The premier and energy minister must be wondering if there is any community in Ontario that will willingly host a power plant.
They should look no further than the three communities that already host nuclear plants. Adding new nuclear capacity would be a win-win for the province:
- The government would see its energy plan actually moving forward.
- Thousands of people would become, or remain, employed in high skilled, high paid occupations; the economic spinoff benefits for the host community would be immense.
- The province would get a cheap, clean, long term stable electricity supply.
- The government could legitimately boast about its clean energy record.
Darlington B should begin now.