• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Are we being pushed down the road to an incinerator?

In Simcoe County
Feb 15th, 2010

By Kate Harries WaterWatch
MIDLAND — For those at who talked to the Stantec team at their information panels during last week’s consultation sessions, the messaging was unmistakeable: incineration is the way to go.
Not surprising. Stantec is the consultant on the Durham York incinerator, currently undergoing an environmental assessment.
Incineration is Stantec’s David Payne’s area of expertise.
Asked last Wednesday in Midland why none of the options outline a path to get to Zero Waste, say within five years, Payne looked shocked.
That can’t be done, he replied.
Ten years?
Maybe 20, and an incinerator would bridge the 20-year gap perfectly, he said.
Many noticed the consultants’ bias.
Barb Baguley, a former Innisfil councillor who has just announced she’s running for Innisfil mayor, told the public consultation meeting in Alliston that incineration was put forward with so much enthusiasm by the consultants at the information panels that she was offended.
Baguley said she would expect the consultants to show no bias at this stage in the process. “When they’re putting forward their preconceived notions before hearing from me, I’m offended.”
Wasaga Beach resident Shawn Wilson has researched the use of plastics in paving.
“The presenters I talked to showed little interest in my findings and made lame excuses as to why it was an impractical solution,” he says in a comment posted to this site.
“They were, however, very happy to discuss the possibility of shipping our garbage to the proposed Durham county incinerator which they had a hand in developing.”
Hire a bricklayer, you’re going to get a brick house.
Here’s an interesting development: a speaker (as yet unnamed) from Simcoe County is on the programme at the upcoming Canadian Environmental Compliance Conference and Tradeshow CANECT), part of the discussion of the ‘Region of Durham experience and energy from waste.’ (Scroll through the brochure and look under Waste 2C).
This is surprising, as we have not yet selected our waste options, and indicates much is going on behind the scenes. Who’s involved? Our councillors? Or the people who feed our councillors the messages they are to deliver?
CANECT brings together the waste industry and municipal managers, provincial bureaucrats, as well as the lawyers, consultant and engineers involved in steering taxpayer dollars in the direction that works best for industry.
The Midland consultation session was packed – as many as 200 people. As with other sessions, it was on the same night as a local council meeting, in this case, Penetang’s.
Peter Stubbins, a former deputy mayor of Tiny who sat on the North Simcoe Waste Management Association (disbanded in 1995) reminded attendees how Ian Gray, the MOE pointman of the day, warned back in the 1980s of the immediate need for new landfill space.
Somehow Simcoe County muddled through the next 30 years.
Now the consultant is saying there’s five to six years landfill capacity left – a figure that is being used by the likes of Adjala-Tosorontio Deputy Mayor Doug Little to argue for  rushing the waste strategy process through to a conclusion in June.
Last August, during the court hearing into the injunction being sought by Simcoe County, Environmental Services Director Rob McCullough was cross-examined by lawyer Peter Rosenthal:
Rosenthal: And it’s estimated that the present site used by those communities will be full beyond use within say ten to 20 years, is that fair?
McCullough: Correct, the – the other county facilities, that’s right.
Rosenthal: “So you need some dumpsite available sometime between 10 and 20 years from today?
McCullough: Yes.
By September, McCullough had revised his estimated to seven years (report CS 09-158 to the Sept. 9 meeting of the corporate services committee).
Stantec, in its Dec. 16 Phase 1 draft technical memo (page 9) estimated the landfills’ remaining operating period at six to seven years. By its Jan. 12 Phase 2 Task D technical memo (page 17) the remaining operating period had shrunk to five to six years.
Tiny Township resident Rudy Chernecki challenged Stantec on the figure at the Midland meeting.
“I’ve done the mathematics, and your numbers don’t work,” he told the panel (two Stantec representatives and County Environmental Services Director Rob McCullough.)
“It’s five or six years,” said Stantec’s Janine Ralph, with uncharacteristic brevity.
“Check your numbers again,” Chernecki told her. “I think there’s a problem with your math.”
Danny Beaton of the Turtle Clan, Mohawk Nation bought greetings from the elders of this territory and called on Simcoe County CAO Mark Aitken and others to stop developing and start protecting Mother Earth. “Tha farmland is sacred,” he said. “We will continue to work with the citizens for safe water.”
Former Tiny councillor Ray Millar – who will be running for mayor in the October election – said he’d been pushing for four years for the county to create a comprehensive Waste Management Master Plan but nothing happened. It should have been done years ago, he said, warning against the haste with which the County is now proceeding, trying to get a strategy within six months.
(See report of Millar’s views in this 2006 post on Polaris Institute site)
Millar said recycling and diversion isn’t sufficient – the strategy needs to focus on “reduce” and “re-use” to keep materials out of the waste stream so no processing is needed.
“We don’t want anymore landfills, we don’t want to start considering incineration,” he said, adding that he disagrees with Stantec’s assumption that the waste stream will grow.
(In recent years, there’s been a decrease: according to Stantec’s presentation, the amount of waste Simcoe County sent to landfill for disposal decreased in 2006-2009, from 77, 089 tonnes to 54,195 tonnes. The amount of waste diverted increased from 38, 159 to 66,469 tonnes.)
Midland Councillor Pat File suggested the County adopt a Zero Waste target for its own operation, similar to an initiative by the Town of Markham which has had a ripple effect throughout the municipality.
For the record:
-McCullough said the aborted Dump Site 41 venture has cost the county $10 million.
-Stephen Ogden asked if the consultants were aware of the county’s development of a design-build contract with Miller Waste for a $30 million Integrated Waste Management Facility and the county’s ongoing negotiations with CFB Borden for development of a waste management facility.
Stantec’s Janine Ralph said the Miller proposal has lapsed and the CFB Borden issue is not part of the strategy process, because it will not involve any decisions on siting – what facilities would go where.

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