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Canada: Site 41 Approval 'Hypocritical'
Kim Goggins - Orillia Today (Orillia)
It's the seeming hypocrisy surrounding the province's final approval for the Design and Operations Plan for Site 41, only a day after passing the Clean Water Act, that bothers Gord Leonard.
"What you have to laugh at is why they passed the Clean Water Act (Thursday) and then on Friday, this thing got passed,"said the Tiny Township resident whose farm abuts the property.
"It's hypocritical. This thing is exempt from the Clean Water Act, anyway. Landfills and treatment plants are exempt from the act. The two biggest polluters we have are exempt."
In his Oct. 20 letter to Community Monitoring Committee chairperson, Ray Millar, manager of the Ministry of Environment' Certificate of Approval Review Section, Ian Parrott, said Site 41 meets the requirements set out in the Certificate of Approval and the current standards for the approval of landfill sites in Ontario.
"In the opinion of the ministry's technical review team, the (Design & Operations) Plan meets these requirements and the amended Certificate of Approval contains appropriate conditions which compel the County to establish, operate and maintain the site in a manner which is protective of the environment and the health and safety of the public."
The final approval follows the 1995 Environmental Assessment Act and Environmental Protection Act approvals that the site had already received.
Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop says the result will be polluted ground water.
"It's amazing. We (the legislature) passed the Clean Water Act on Thursday and the next morning, the letter goes out saying Site 41 is fine," he said.
"We debate this legislation so it really means something and we turn around and basically grandfather in projects and make exceptions that clearly, clearly have to be a deterrent to the bill. Of course, looking at the ground water supply out there, there's no question it will pollute."
But vocal opponent of the site, Steve Ogden says the fight is not over. In fact, with a new county council about to be formed, the battle is just beginning - again.
"It looks like they're (county council) not going to deal with it until next term. That means we have all kinds of opportunities to lobby all the new county councillors and bring forward all the alternatives that are out there. So, I'm quite optimistic it's going to stop," he said. "We'll just take it one more step and we'll figure out another way."
The MOE had issued a draft Notice of Approval on July 10, giving the county and the CMC until Aug. 25 to respond with questions and concerns. A public meeting was held on Aug. 10 that included representatives from the MOE and the county.
Although he's not surprised by the MOE's approval, it doesn't change what Millar sees as the fundamental issue - is a landfill on Site 41 the best option for the county to pursue in this day and age?
"I would suggest it is not and the county's own consultant would seem to agree with that point of view. During a meeting of Tiny Township Council, in response to a question poised by Councillor (Rob) Panasiuk, the county's consultant on this matter Mr. Doug Jagger, states that if the site selection process were to begin anew, it is unlikely that Site 41 would be the preferred site. Given that response, I am left wondering on what basis is the county pursuing the development of the site."
But with approximately 15,000 tonnes of residential and commercial waste going to landfill sites in other areas of the county each year (170,200 tonnes since 1995), Warden Terry Geddes says the time has come to stop shipping North Simcoe waste to these landfills, as their capacities are becoming depleted.
"The fact is, the capacity of county landfills has been decreasing significantly faster than it should because of the lack of a local disposal solution for Tiny Township, Tay Township, Midland and Penetanguishene," Geddes said in a press release. "We've maintained an honourable position by keeping our own residential waste within county borders and not making our waste another jurisdiction's issue. The approval for Site 41 now provides a local disposal solution for the North Simcoe area, which has for many years, been exporting its waste to other county communities, including Clearview, Wasaga Beach, Oro-Medonte and Elmvale."
Last week, at the county's Waste Management Sub-Committee meeting and then at its Corporate Services Committee meeting, members voted to defer to the new county council, a notice of motion brought forward last month by Tiny Township Deputy Mayor Pierre Paul Maurice that called for the county to examine alternatives to managing waste, after after the county sought legal advice.
Millar told The Mirror that he believes the incoming county council has a fiduciary duty to taxpayers to create a business plan that addresses the Site 41 proposal and an overall waste management study in general.
"A business case will allow the county to develop a fact driven point of view that is reflective of our current situation, not one that may or may not have existed in 1979 when this plan was first considered, and subsequently rejected, I might add," said Millar. "A business case will provide an economic model outlining financing requirements, capital and operating costs, return on investment. It will measure the costs and benefits of alternative proposals in terms of economics, social and environment concerns. A business case should also identify and rank the risks of various proposals. In short, a business case will provide the recommendations necessary for decision making."