• Protecting Water and Farmland in Simcoe County

Oops, whose fault were the delays in the Freele Tract waste project?

In Agriculture
May 3rd, 2020
County lawyer Marshall Green

Simcoe County’s solicitor Marshall Green 

Letter to Springwater News from R.W. Wagner, Springwater

I note some misleading comments in the “County Council Highlights” which were presented by the County to Springwater News in its edition dated April 30. In those comments, County Staff state:

“…The current path for obtaining approvals is likely to take another two years or more without a Ministerial Zoning Order and has already cost the taxpayer more than $1.5 million.”

Let’s explore the reality behind those comments.

If the County is concerned about the timeline, why not simply press for an earlier resolution through the existing LPAT process? The only delay in that process so far, was the result of the County’s Staff solicitor changing his mind about the County’s preferred approach. The LPAT board rejected the County’s change in direction.

Oops, whose fault was that?

If the County is concerned about costs incurred to date, why then did the County’s Mr. McCullough flatly refuse, in writing, to contact an industrial site representative whose name, phone number and e-mail address were provided? That existing industrial site may be more cost effective to develop, rather than starting from scratch in the middle of a forest.

It might be more cost effective to operate, given that it is closer to the point where 26% of the County’s garbage is generated, and on route to the end destination for the sorted/processed product.

If Mr. McCullough had performed the due diligence required of any employee in the private sector, is it possible that the garbage depot could be in operation right now? Is County Council content to rely upon guidance provided by County Staff, who (in this case) refused to simply pick up the phone or send an e-mail?

At a recent County “Meeting of the Whole”, one of the Councillors asked whether any of the County Staff had contacted the City of Barrie with regard to jointly developing a site.

Presumably, since Barrie produces approximately 26% of the garbage in the entire County, there might be a saving in the development cost (e.g. if Barrie were to provide the industrial site and the County were to construct the facility), and the operational costs might be lower (since transportation costs would be reduced by processing 26% of the garbage near its source, rather than shipping it 15 km north into the heart of an ecologically sensitive forest, and then shipping it back that same 15 km on route to its end destination).

The answer to the Councillor’s question, as offered by the County’s Ms. Korolnek (on the public record): “Well, the supposition is that the City of Barrie will want to handle its own waste management”.

This is a multi-million dollar project, and yet not one of the Councillors challenged that superficial response to an approach which might save the taxpayer more than the costs incurred to date. Again, the question arises as to why County Councillors are unwilling to challenge the lack of due diligence by their own staff.

If there is genuine concern for the taxpayer, as suggested in the “County Council Highlights”, why then the reluctance to explore options which could well be less expensive, and faster to bring on line?

Why the continued failure by County Council to acknowledge the petition presented by 1,200 County residents who are opposed to placing the garbage depot in any of our forests?

Why the continued failure by County Council to acknowledge the opposition to a forest site, by 76% of participants in the initial series of public meetings, as was stated in the resultant report provided by the County’s own consultant? Has there been any other public survey conducted, which specifically asks for the public’s preference as to an industrial site or a forest?

Why the continued failure by County Council to take their own Staff to task for visible failures in due diligence? Is this the same Staff who were responsible for the $12nmillion of taxpayers’ funds wasted on Site 41?

What in the world is going on?

7 Responses to “Oops, whose fault were the delays in the Freele Tract waste project?”

  1. Terry Northey says:

    Is this gross incompetence or a case of follow the money?
    Why would any thinking person(s) work so hard to place a waste recycling plant in a pristine forest on top of the last clean aquifer on the planet.
    All while using extremely out moded technology.
    Mean while back on planet Earth many other municipalities have used emerging technologies to leap frog waste problems by using more economical and environmentally friendly processes.
    The fine print here also reveals that this recycling plant could be a gateway to a future Simcoe County or Private landfill.
    In the middle of a Judicial Service lock down due to a Global Pandemic why has the Ontario Government decided that now is the time to dismiss with due process and rule of law.
    Lots of private money.
    A law that can not be challenged can not stand and can not be valid in a democracy.

    • Ann says:

      You make some very good points Terry, especially with the last sentence.
      It’s really disgusting that the County would take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to get their way in this.
      If the minister approves the MZO, then democracy is as good as dead in Ontario.

  2. R.W. Wagner says:

    As a follow up to the foregoing article, on May 8 I noticed a surveyor who was surveying alongside Horseshoe Valley Road, between Nicholyn Farms and Matheson Creek. That section of Horseshoe Valley Road covers the entrance into the Freele Forest. Upon enquiry, the surveyor confirmed that the County’s intention is to widen that specific section of roadway.
    Note, despite the County’s publicized projection that traffic along that section of road will only increase by 6.2% at the garbage depot’s peak production, the reality is that the projected increase is essentially all from heavy truck traffic, comprised of 210 deliveries of garbage every day, 6 days a week (from Monday to Saturday inclusive, only excluding Sundays), 13 hours per day (from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.). Based on the international “rule of thumb” when conducting traffic surveys, heavy truck traffic is generally considered to comprise 10% of traffic flow. With that in mind, this equates to an increase of 62% in heavy truck traffic, NOT 6.2%.
    Consider, that means 210 garbage trucks entering the Freele Forest and 210 trucks leaving the forest each and every day, plus the transport trucks which will move the sorted/processed garbage to its end destination, plus 20 to 30 Staff vehicles. If we ignore the numbers of transport trucks and Staff vehicles, and focus only on the garbage trucks, that equates to 420 entrances or exits every day, which then equates to 1 every 1.86 minutes.
    This, along a road which carries mainly family vehicles, many on route to the ski hills, golf courses, Wasaga Beach, cottage country, etc. Remind me again, why is it that we want to add an additional 420 large, commercial trucks into that mix, trying to merge in and out of the existing traffic every 1.86 minutes? Oh, right, because County Staff is projecting a negligible 6.2% increase. How forgetful of me.

    Given that the County’s request for the Ministerial Zoning Order has not yet been approved, that raises the following 2 questions:
    1) Is the “fix” already in, i.e. have the politicians decided to “bless” this site selection and ignore the wishes of the broader public? Or,
    2) Is this yet another example of potentially wasting Taxpayers’ money by County Staff, who are plunging ahead with preparatory work for a site that has not been approved?

    I realize that “shame” is an emotion which is foreign to most politicians, but how about some level of embarrassment?

    With regard to Site 41, the County spent more than $12 million of our money, right up to the bitter end when the project was cancelled because the County failed to obtain operational approval from the Ministry of the Environment. Who is/was accountable for that lack of due diligence and the monumental waste of our money? Anyone? This was all done at a time when broad public opposition had been made abundantly clear. Notice any similarities in the current situation?

    County Staff, would you like me to shut up? I challenge you to show me the public survey, ANY public survey, which supports the creation of the proposed garbage depot in any of our forests rather than an existing industrial site. County Staff had an opportunity to broaden the scope of the last “recreational” forest survey which was orchestrated by the County’s Forester (Graham Davis), but failed to act ( or even to respond) to the suggestion that was put forward at that time. Why?

    How do you think the young people and students of this County will react when this is brought to their attention at the start of this September’s school year, given that these forests belong to them, and given their participation in worldwide environmental demonstrations last September?

    Again I ask, what in the world is going on?

  3. Holly Levinter says:

    It boggles the mind and spends money frivolously.

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