Thursday, September 17th 2020, 4:14 pm - These sunflower fields may be one of Mississauga's best kept secrets. Lakeview Village, right near the border of Etobicoke and Mississauaga, is home to thousands of sunflowers. It’s all part of the bigger plan to pull toxins out of the soil.
Selfie-seekers, look no further! Mississauga should be on your radar, with one million sunflowers in bloom for your enjoyment. But these flowers aren’t only here to provide a perfect backdrop for your photos -- they are working to clean the soil of toxins left behind by what was once the world's largest coal-burning power plant.
"The plant was constructed in the 1950s, and I think it opened at the end of the decade," said Fabio Mazzocco, president of both Argo Development Corporation and of Lakeview Community Partners. "It was the largest coal burning power plant in the world: eight massive boilers, it drew water from Lake Ontario, cold water, and it outletted warm water after [passing] through. There was a massive coal pile over there where ships would come on Lake Ontario and attached themselves to the pier. The site also has Canada's longest pier on the Great Lakes."
Courtesy: Lakeview Community Partners
Many still remember the iconic four sister smoke stacks that stood 146 metres tall. In April 2005, after more than 40 years of operation, the Lakeview Generating Station closed. It was demolished in two parts: partly over the summer of 2006 and the rest was demolished the following June.
"What used to be the world's largest coal-burning power plant, a huge polluter in this area, is now something the foundation of something green," said Mazzocco.
Enter the sunflowers.
"OPG [Ontario Power Generation] formally had remediated all of these lands. They did a really good job of being stewards of the land. They left us with a very clean site, so it's just a tertiary measure that [the sunflowers] actually act as phytoremediators and pull some of the contaminants out of the ground,” Mazzocco explained.
Courtesy: Marta Czurylowicz
"They do draw certain metals and toxins out of the ground. Fortunately the area here is actually quite clean. There's a part in the site where they had the big coal pile - that's the largest area where we planted the sunflowers. There they may actually have some effect over a long term, year-over-year to draw some of the toxins out of the soil."
Marta Czurylowicz snaps a selfie in the sunflower field.
While construction is underway to bring the lakeshore back to the public, Mazzocco says they are using the sunflowers to invite the public back.
Selfie-seekers are reminded to practice social distancing and maintain 6 feet from others when visiting the Lakeview Village sunflowers.
Learn more about this iconic sunflower field in the video that leads this article.