Friday, October 02, 2009
Dump opponents insist battle not over yet Author: Nicole Million Date: Sep 29, 2009 Steve Ogden fought for more than 20 years against the County of Simcoe’s proposed landfill at Site 41 in Tiny Township. Though council has voted to abandon the plan, Ogden said he won’t be celebrating until the certificate of approval allowing a dump on the site is revoked by the province. Opponents of landfill Site 41 may have breathed a small sigh of relief, but they’re refusing to let their guard down just yet. Longtime dump critic Steve Ogden said news of the 25-3 vote on Sept. 22 to abandon plans for the controversial dump is definitely good news, but he won’t celebrate until Simcoe County council votes to revoke the certificate of approval (C of A) issued by the province. “I don’t believe it’s over and done with,” Ogden said, adding he’s concerned county council may come back in a different configuration after the fall 2010 municipal election and vote to revive the landfill. “The C of A is still alive and well for that site, which means there could still be a dump in the future. Until such time that it’s revoked, I think we should be quite afraid.” Ogden said he was confident leading up to the meeting that council would dump the dump for good, but he wasn’t surprised when they opted not to revoke the C of A. “There’s more going on here than meets the eye,” he said. Among Ogden’s concerns is the possibility the county will sell the property to a private company that will go ahead and build a landfill. “If we put our guard down, we’re going to see something happen. I think we should be very cautious.” Anne Ritchie-Nahuis echoed Ogden’s disappointment that council chose not to seek removal of the C of A. “It’s with very cautious optimism that we move forward,” she said. “We know we need to remove the C of A, and we feel (that) is the only adequate means of stopping Site 41.” Vicki Monague, a Christian Island resident and a leader of the Anishinabe Kweag protest, was less circumspect, telling The Mirror she was ecstatic with the vote. “It was something that our group had been working towards ever since we started the protest camp. A lot of us feel that our objectives … have been met now,” she said. “We’re really happy and thankful county council passed that resolution.” Both Ogden and Ritchie-Nahuis credited the overwhelming public pressure – including the First Nations camp near the site, daily protests and the support of big names like former U.S. presidential candidate Ralph Nader, environmentalist David Suzuki and Council of Canadian chairperson Maude Barlow – as the driving force behind putting a stop to the more than 20-year fight to stop the landfill. “The fact that people mobilized and stood up, I think there was quite a great fear amongst the elected officials that they must do something or they would never be re-elected or be seen as credible,” said Ogden. The concerns have always been there, added Ritchie-Nahuis, but the strong, science-based opposition to the site was bolstered this time by widespread public support. “There’s always been strong opposition, (but) the protesters brought it to a new level and First Nations people have made a great commitment to protecting Mother Earth,” she said. “People all over the world do not appreciate wasteful use of water resources. We have a strong commitment to move forward and ensure our community’s water supply is protected.” Penetanguishene Mayor Anita Dubeau, who initially voted to support the controversial landfill before changing her mind, said she is confident the landfill plan will not be revived. “I believe Site 41 is dead, which I believe is a good thing,” she said. “Now it’s very prudent of the 32 members that sit on county council to consider options and where we go from here. North Simcoe’s garbage has been filling up other people’s landfills, and we appreciate the fact we’re allowed to do that, but we do have to look at solutions.” Dubeau said she hopes those who were against the development of Site 41 will come forward with new ideas, but noted she believes withdrawing the C of A at this time is premature. “Do I think that county council is ever going to sell that property and let a private developer put in a landfill? I would say that would be an absolute silly move on our part after what’s gone on,” she said. “Maybe there’s something else we can do with that property that’s not landfill, but may be related to waste management.” Ray Millar, former chair of the community monitoring committee tasked with advising the landfill plan and representing citizens’ interests to the county, told The Mirror it was inevitable the landfill would never come to fruition. He said he was “very pleased” with the decision overall, but surprised with the numbers. “I expected there to be more (votes against) the plan to discontinue it permanently,” he said. “The big challenge lies just ahead of us now, and that’s moving Simcoe County to a zero-waste approach. Rather than constantly looking for ways to manage our waste, it’s time we moved our efforts to reducing waste and eliminating it from our lexicon.” Site 41 Chronology 1979: North Simcoe municipalities begin the search for a new landfill site. 1986: A 20.7-hectare (50-acre) parcel in Tiny Township is selected as the preferred site, based on 20 technical criteria. It is Site 41. 1989: Ministry of the Environment concurs with the local environmental assessment process that recommends Site 41. 1990: Provincial cabinet intervenes on site selection process. 1990: Issue referred to a joint board – a combination of the Ontario Municipal Board and the Environmental Review Tribunal. Board notes guidelines have changed and recommends further review. 1990-93: Additional sites are reviewed, but Site 41 remains the preferred choice. May 1993: Joint Board hearing resumes, and lasts until November 1994. 1995: The Joint Board grants approval for the landfill site. 1995: The North Simcoe Waste Management Association disbands; Simcoe County takes over the development process. 1998: Ministry of the Environment issues a provisional certificate of approval; county begins to buy land. 1998-2003: Technical studies conducted as stipulated by the provisional C of A. 2003: Tiny Township and the community monitoring committee hire independent engineering and environmental consultants to review the county’s work. Oct. 20, 2006: Ministry of the Environment issues final approval for Site 41 landfill. June 26, 2007: County council approves initial site development. Dec. 8, 2008: Ministry of the Environment issues permit to take water, allowing construction to start. 2009: Cell construction begins. Aug. 25, 2009: County council votes in favour of a one-year moratorium. Sept. 22, 2009: Council votes 25-3 to abandon its plans for the dump.