COMMUNITY OPPOSING LANDFILL DEVELOPMENT
The Vice-Chair: I now call upon the Community Opposing Landfill Development. Would you identify yourself for the purposes of Hansard, please.
Mr Maris: My name is David Maris, and I am pleased to meet everybody.
The Vice-Chair: You have 20 minutes to make your presentation and we would appreciate some time towards the end to have questions from the committee.
Mr Maris: On behalf of COLD, Community Opposing Landfill Development, and the CAW Local 127, Chatham and District Labour Council, I wish to thank the committee for this opportunity to speak to Bill 143. This is a right that every citizen of Ontario must be ensured, the right to be heard and the right to be included in any decisions, present and future, with respect to waste management concerns in Ontario and, in particular, waste management concerns that involve our communities, our rural heritage and our integrity. We support responsible waste management practices: practices that ensure viability for our communities, practices that ensure sustainability for our communities and practices that ensure that we pass on to our future generations lands and water systems that contain no injustices, while allowing them to build for our future society. We support the intent of Bill 143, the goals of waste reduction for Ontario, the efforts to end transportation from municipalities and regions to others less fortunate, left to the mercy of unscrupulous private companies, and the need to develop responsible alternatives for the reprocessing of waste into resources. While we support the intent of Bill 143, we still have concerns about certain parts of it. Our problems with it also take in the fact that some clarification should be made to other parts. Any criticisms should be taken as constructive efforts by our groups to ensure responsibility and the right of each citizen to be heard and the right to justice for individuals and communities. I will begin by speaking about Fletcher. Our community group is one that has formed to fight the injustice of a dump threatening to reopen in the midst of our community, a dump that was opened improperly during the 1970s and closed later that decade. In our fight we have the support of the rural residents, Tilbury East township, CAW 127, Chatham and District Labour Council, the county of Kent, local business, RAGE and the moral support of countless others. We unfortunately do not have the support of a failing bureaucracy in Toronto that citizens in this province must rely on to make decisions, be they right or wrong. If you were to understand our fight you would realize why I feel strongly that all have a right to be heard and all must be involved in the decision-making process. This issue illustrates that an injustice can be rendered to an individual and a community in Ontario, and it is a sad commentary on our society if it would allow even one to fall helplessly into the abyss of poor legislation. We have such a bureaucracy and we have the community of Fletcher, which fell into a loophole in present legislation. Where are those who maintain they will protect our rights? In Fletcher we have a dump proponent, a private owner who lives in a county closer to the GTA, rumoured to be fronting for one of the larger private waste concerns, Laidlaw or BFI Waste Management Inc, a proponent who lives with greed as a guide, not out of any concern for the betterment of our society. This proponent, in my opinion, is driven by the headlines of a waste crisis in Ontario, by profit margins of private waste companies ready to exploit the people of Ontario. When this site operated in the 1970s he violated his certificate of approval from the very first day, through violations such as the type of waste to be received, the municipality from which the waste was to be taken, the very location where the waste was to be deposited. These violations were and are recorded by the Ministry of the Environment and have never been dealt with properly. All this and more at a site that the people never knew was going to open until the very first day of operation when trucks rolled in to unload industrial waste. This private operator reaped profits from society, never benefiting it, only violating our community from the outside, a community whose history can show only a benefit to our society. This same proponent operates with the aid of a bureaucracy that maintains that Fletcher, as in the 1970s, does not have a right to be heard properly, does not have a right to be involved in the decision-making process. In my opinion, since Kent county has passed a resolution never to use this dump for a waste disposal site, this proponent or others that he may be fronting for see this site as a repository for transported waste. What is the system that would render such an injustice on the community of Fletcher? Who are such people who have failed Fletcher? Part II, waste disposal sites: The Ministry of the Environment has made a policy decision that the search for long-term landfill sites should be made within the respective municipalities of the GTA, in effect making those municipalities more responsible for waste generated within the GTA. We approve of such a decision. This is a position we have maintained, that each municipality must be responsible for its waste generation to be handled properly, employing responsible waste reduction and diversion projects. We approve of the full environmental assessment process that allows the right to be heard properly. We approve that, during that process, discussion of alternatives will be restricted to waste reduction, reuse and recycling. Transportation: We cannot believe transportation is an alternative, an alternative that would waste valuable resources to bus garbage instead of applying real alternatives. Our air, land and water resources are also valuable to Ontario, as is any land, water and air within the GTA. This fact must be recognized by all in the urban regions of Ontario because we too contribute to the social, cultural and economic fabric of Ontario. Our region has contributed valuable resources that were used to build Ontario, some of which sadly were never replaced. These range widely, including lumber, natural gas, rich agricultural diversity and people. We will not allow our community to die, destroyed by the greed of others, the wastes of distant urban centres.
Transportation of waste only allows our society to be irresponsible in its practices when we should be treating this wide range of material as a secondary resource to allow remanufacturing processes that are a future growth industry, a future resource for employment. To me, it is ironic that this same irresponsibility, this foolishness runs contrary to principles we embrace as Canadians. It is true that rural people will lose their sense of responsibility towards proper waste alternatives if garbage is dumped in their midst from distant urban centres. In Tilbury East township a recycling depot has been established that could be put forth as a model for others to strive for. This depot that residents must drive some distance to utilize has enjoyed overwhelming support and pride from these same residents. The grass-roots support from rural people is tremendous. At this facility residents can deposit newspapers, box board, cans, white goods, hazardous waste, fine paper, computer paper, glass, metals, cardboard, all plastics, used oil and tires. Rural residents generally compost as they have for years on their own properties, adding to the organic soil content. As I have said, this is tremendous but I am most disheartened because too many residents have approached me lately to state flatly, "Why the hell should I recycle when the Ministry of the Environment is doing this to us?" I do my best to dissuade these people from any other course than that which we are already now on. Incineration: I also applaud the Ministry of the Environment's policy with respect to incineration. This is certainly an alternative that does not encourage responsible and productive management of resources available in waste. Incinerators would only require a society to promote waste generation, not waste reduction. You have heard from my county of Kent and one township, Harwich, this morning and their interest in incineration as an alternative. Let me tell you, this too is a concern of the people of Kent, who have opposed incinerator proposals numerous times. We do not want incineration. I am very sceptical towards any township that accepts revenue from tipping fees and would entertain incineration as an alternative, especially when they long ago stopped fighting for residents' rights with respect to waste management. Going by the Ministry of the Environment's estimates, 3,000 tonnes of waste end up as 1,000 tonnes of ash plus 100 tonnes of hazardous fly ash. I cannot see this as a long-term benefit to Ontario; landfills would still fill up, only a little slower, but we would be required to establish disposal facilities for hazardous fly ash, a foolish waste of capital resources that would serve Ontario better in developing waste reduction and diversion projects. Another grave concern from incineration is that of stack emissions. We do not need the benefit of another source of air pollution near us or at a distance. I do not want to discuss anyone's state-of-the-art technology that would absolve us from mercury, dioxin, chlorinated hydrocarbons, heavy metals, fine particulates etc. I am only interested in state-of-the-present examples that I have to rely on when incineration is discussed. One day last spring, I received a phone call from a local farmer who stated that six hours earlier, as he drove from Tilbury past Chatham, he witnessed a huge jet stream of a yellowish haze in the sky. He did not know what to do about it but realized that I was concerned about such problems. Could I find out what it was? I went not a couple of miles and sure enough this haze was still there but somewhat dissipated. I had no answers so I called the Ministry of the Environment, Windsor branch, and asked if it could investigate. They did and two days later they had the answer: that on the day in question a warm front was meeting a cold front, and air conditions served to roll the pollution from the Detroit incinerator into an incredible stream that travelled for 60-plus miles well past our region. Air pollution problems in my area were also driven home within the last three weeks when I found out that in Merlin, a farming community five miles from where I live, at a testing station for the air resources branch of the Ministry of the Environment, levels determined with upper limits of 82 parts per billion registered readings of 362 parts per billion from May to September 1988, and 158 parts per billion in 1991. It seems that our farming community not only records pollution from Detroit, Sarnia, Windsor and London but also from across Lake Erie from industrial areas in the US. We registered the highest levels in southern Ontario. Part III, implementation: We have concerns that relate to the right to be heard and to participate in the decision-making process. As members of RAGE, we too take the position that the minister should implement broad public consultation with adequate time for members of the public to review technical reports and also reports to possibly use Keele and Britannia for the interim period. We cannot endorse elimination of public consultation but hope to see an accelerated process with proper resources available to those affected. All steps must be taken to ensure the rights of citizens within the GTA who would live near the required sites. Part IV amendments: We encourage any regulations that improve efforts in Ontario towards waste reduction and diversion. It is hoped that this part of Bill 143 will allow municipalities and industry to accelerate programs to achieve benefits for the people of Ontario. We cannot agree, in light of the abuses in Fletcher, with section 26, subsection 29(1), as we read this. We cannot agree with that for the transportation of waste, be it in the hands of the director or in the hands of the minister, who would be more accountable to the public. In closing, I thank you for the opportunity to participate in this process and I hope that together Ontario will rely on diversion and reduction when dealing with waste management concerns.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for another thoughtful brief. There are three minutes left, so a minute per caucus.
Mrs Mathyssen: Thank you, Mr Maris. I was quite interested in your description of the Fletcher dump site. Could you explain to the committee what you meant by it being improperly opened and what was going into the site and when and why it was closed?
Mr Maris: As we the citizens' group sees it, there were several abuses, as I said; the first one when the proponent applied for the certificate of approval back in 1972. He started depositing waste in a different location, closer and within the community of Fletcher. That was one of the first violations he did undertake.
Mr McLean: Has the incinerator in Detroit had an effect on the farming community? Have there been some statistics gathered to determine whether in the area it has affected the crops?
Mr Maris: There have been statistics. As for statistics towards crops, I cannot tell you those statistics, if there have been any. All I can tell you is that it is hard to relate air pollution statistics and people. How do you prove such damages from air pollution?
Mr McLean: Being a farmer I am concerned about it.
Mr Maris: So am I. It has been within the last three weeks that I have found out these statistics and I have not had time to pursue this properly.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for a thoughtful presentation. If you have any additional information, you can put it in writing to the committee.