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Majority of Ontarians oppose current legislation for siting future garbage dumps, poll says

By Chris Funston, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

The City of Niagara Falls and Niagara Region are reminding people it is illegal to dump garbage along roadsides and vacant lots. Mike DiBattista / Niagara Falls Review / Postmedia Network

The City of Niagara Falls and Niagara Region are reminding people it is illegal to dump garbage along roadsides and vacant lots. Mike DiBattista / Niagara Falls Review / Postmedia Network

The fight against the siting of future garbage dumps just got stronger.

A poll of 800 people across Ontario found that 77 per cent feel municipalities should have the right to approve or reject new landfill and waste facilities.

“It is interesting that this poll is this high across Ontario. It is also interesting that multiple municipalities have joined in on the action,” said Bryan Smith, President of Oxford People Against the Landfill (OPAL). “It tells us that Ontario-wide rejects the idea of dumps.”

Smith explained that this past weekend residents from the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Chris Ballard’s home riding of Newmarket-Aurora supported OPAL. The residents from the riding even went on to sign the petition and also volunteered to take information directly to Ballard for a scheduled meeting sometime this week.

As the law stands today, private contractors can propose, develop, and operate new landfill sites in the province without the approval of impacted towns and cities.

Previously OPAL, which consists of a board of 12 members, 40 regular members and 260 volunteers, has requested that municipalities take a stance on whether communities have the right to approve projects on this scale.

As Ontario landfills are filling up quickly, several new mega dumps will be needed to take on unwanted garbage and soon.

“Right now, Highway 401 is the Greater Toronto Area’s garbage chute,” said Ted Comiskey, Chair of the Demand the Right coalition of municipalities and the Mayor of Ingersoll, in a release. “Any community outside the 905 to the provincial border is a potential site for future mega dumps and under current legislation, there’s nothing we can do about it. We want to change that.”

The poll, conducted by Public Square Research on Feb. 21 and 22, also found that only 23 per cent of Ontarians would accept waste from other towns or cities. It was commissioned by a coalition of Ontario municipalities concerned about the potential for their communities to become unwilling hosts to new landfill sites.

MPP for Oxford and PC Critic for Municipal Affairs Ernie Hardeman also spoke out in the release urging the need to recognize future landfill developments, while the need has to be matched with a community’s right to say yes or no to the projects.

“It makes no sense that municipalities have the right to approve where the Tim Horton’s is located and yet be denied that same right when it comes to landfills,” said Hardeman.

The original dump site proposal was put forward in 2012 which showed it being opened in 2017. Thanks to the passionate opposition, plans have now been pushed back to 2022 at the earliest. An environmental assessment of the proposed dump to be located at a Carmeuse site in Beachville is expected to be completed by 2021 or 2022.

Quick facts

•Ontario produces nearly one tonne of waste per person, with three-quarters of it being dumped in landfills annually;

•Downtown office buildings, industrial complexes, and commercial buildings (ICI), produce 6.7 million tonnes of garbage per year – of which only 15 per cent is recycled or reused; and,

•From the ICI sector alone, the volume of waste requires over a quarter million truck loads a year and would fill Toronto’s Rogers Centre to the roof 74 times over.