Councillor Josh Matlow

Coming to (all over) Toronto: more solar power

July 6 2012



John Michael McGrath


City Council’s agenda for next week’s meeting has been put online, and near the bottom of the “member’s motions” section you’ll see something odd: seven separate motions from Councillor Josh Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s), all relating to the installation of solar panels across Toronto. And when we say across Toronto, we mean all over the place. Here’s a map of the 26 or so locations that are mentioned in Matlow’s motions:


The company installing all of these systems is Brightroof Solar. Speaking with OpenFile this afternoon, CEO David Oxtoby says that municipal approval is an important step towards getting these solar panels—more than 10 megawatts of capacity in all—installed.


“It’s in Toronto’s interest to approve all the applications unless there’s something particular about a project,” says Oxtoby, and he hastens to add that there’s little about any of these projects to object to. They won’t even be visible from the streets, they contain no moving parts, and don’t interfere with airborne critters at all. Oxtoby doesn’t say it explicitly, but the point he’s making is that these projects aren’t remotely comparable to wind turbines, which are more controversial.

Brightroof Solar will lease the rooftops from property owners and sell their solar electricity on to the grid through the Ontario Power Authority, which will give them a 20-year contract. 60 percent of the system content has to be manufactured in Ontario under the terms of the contracts.


Brightroof is headquartered in Matlow’s ward, so they contacted him to get municipal approval for the projects. “My understanding is that in the points-based application, two out of seven points come from having municipal approval,” says Matlow, who split up his motion in to bring in the local councillors in various wards.


(The only one of Matlow’s motions not to be co-sponsored by the local ward councillor was a project in Ward 3, represented by Doug Holyday.)


Under normal procedures, Matlow’s motions would go to committee and come back to council, in the fall. Matlow hopes that council will give his motions the 2/3 vote needed to skip that, since there’s no reason for these to be controversial.


“We’re really just following the rules set out by

[the feed-in-tariff contract]. Unless there’s a general misunderstanding about the intent of these motions,” says Matlow. “We and the media get so wrapped up in the more colorful issues at council, and the divisions. And this is just a story about promoting renewable energy, the local economy, jobs, and a wide array of councillors. We need more of that.”


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