Citizens demand answers about recycling plant
By Kate Harries AWARE Simcoe July 21 2010
The old Oro town hall was hot and the debate got heated at a meeting organized by citizens concerned about the potential impact of a prioposed recycling plant on the Oro Moraine near Hawkestone.
“None of us are against the concpet of recycling,” said Dr. Ted Beaton, whose family has lived on the same land in Oro since 1862. “But the proposed site could not be worse.”
Beaton said the Oro Moraine is as sensitive and in need of protection as the Oak Ridges Moraine. He recalled finding out about the first Oro-Medonte Township meeting about the TRY Recyling application in May 2009. The information consisted of 14 slides put up by the township planner – now called the director of development services following the disbanding of the township’s planning committee.
Beaton said that when he served on the planning committee in the ’90s all major applications were accompanied by a very thorough presentation from the applicants.
He added that TRY Recyling’s existing operation in London serves a huge area – from Windsor to Kitchener, from Lake Erie to Owen Sound.
For the Oro-Medonte operation to be viable, he suggested, the catchment area might run from the GTA to Parry Sound and points east and west.
He said the plan is for all operations to be carried out on the bare soil of an excavated gravel pit, in the open, 45 feet above the nearest aquifer. A mobile plant will be bought in to mix asphalt with shingles to make paving material.
He also criticized a “poorly structured” 40-year lease council has entered into.
Keynote speaker Stephen Ogden urged the audience to stand together and get answers to ensure that their water is protected.
“It’s your water, it’s your children’s water, it’s more important than anything else,” said the Tiny Township resident and veteran of the Site 41 battle.
He said that while he does not know the details of the TRY Recylcing project, his experience is that the approvals process fails to protect the environment or respond to citizens’ need for information.
And, once approved, such facilities need monitoring.
“If you allow this to happen, who’s going to watch it for you?” he asked. “The ministry of the environment? They won’t help you. The County of Simcoe? They will never help you. Your township? They can’t help you because they don’t know how.”
The current practice is for municipalities to retain consultants to do the monitoring – and that doesn’t work because a consultant has to accommodate or lose the job, he said.
Ogden didn’t mince his words in describing Simcoe Coiunty’s role in the 25-year bAttle over Dump Site 41, which county council finally voted to stop last September.
“Our elected officials are representing an administration that’s out of control,” he said. Most county councillors are kept in the dark and decisions are made by a “clique” of strong and “boisterous” councillors. “Politicians – most of them – go out to do a good job. But they get caught up.”
Both Mayor Harry Hughes and Deputy Mayor Ralph Hough took exception to Ogden’s “generalizations” about county councillors and pointed out that they had both consistently voted against Site 41.
Hughes added that the reason county council voted against Site 41 was because they learned recycling will make landfill sites unnecessary – he held up the recently approved Stantec waste strategy report.
Hughes said the township has retained a reputable consultant to study the recycling projects potential impact on the environment. The consultant’s report will be peer-reviewed, he added. He did not answer a question about who the consultant is.
He also dismissed a request that Ken Howard, a hydrogeologist retained by the residents, be allowed to do some tests at the siite.
“I don’t know the man,” he said. Told that Howard is a professor at the University of Toronto, Hughes said he thought there would be a legal problem.
Ogden agreed that both Hughes and Hough had played a positive role at county council on the Site 41 issue and he had not meant to imply otherwise. “You stood up,” he said.
Other Site 41 supporters in the audience also said the two had been responsive to their concerns.
On the TRY Recyling project, however, some at the meeting complained about emails to the Mayor and CAO not being answered and about being ignored whn wishing to speak at council.
Some questioned why the operation could not be located on land that’s zoned industrial. Hough said the township owns very little of this land – a large portion of it is owned by an off-shore company that the township has been unable to contact.
One resident noted that when hearings were held to approve the gravel pit, there were promises – and pictures – of how the land would be restored. “The3 township should put its gravel pit back to its original state because that’s the law,” he said.