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Durham incinerator deal signed

In Waste
Nov 27th, 2010

By Peter Edwards Toronto Star November 25 2010
The chair of Durham Region has signed a controversial contract to build the GTA’s first garbage incinerator in 20 years.
Roger Anderson told regional council of his move on Thursday with a mass email, igniting furious and saddened reactions from opponents of the $260 million project with Covanta Energy Corp.
Anderson has signing authority on the contract without having to go back to council for approval. Last week, the provincial Environment Ministry approved the Clarington incinerator’s environmental assessment.
Anderson could not be reached for comment.
Opponents call the project dangerous for the environment and overpriced, arguing it will drive down property values and increase truck traffic.
“I’m absolutely disgusted,” said outgoing Oshawa councillor Brian Nicholson. “I think it’s the worst mistake Durham Region has made since the region was formed in 1974.”
“I was in tears today,” said Bill Steele, who ran unsuccessfully for council in Oshawa in the recent election. “I have a granddaughter who’s 8. I was thinking of her future, the quality of the air. We don’t have the greatest air already.”
In his email, Anderson said the incinerator project has been studied extensively for years.
“I feel it is appropriate that the contract be signed especially after this council spent every day of the last four years on this file; after the peer reviews by the region and by Clarington; and after 18 months of provincial review which confirmed what regional council supported in June of 2009,” Anderson wrote.
Nicholson said the incoming council should have been allowed to study details of the deal before Anderson signed it.
“That’s an insult to democracy,” he said.
In his email, Anderson said he signed the agreement “after much deliberation with staff, with our partners in York Region, and with our legal advisers in the region and in Toronto.”
“As regional chair I take my position very seriously and I would hope you would all know that if this agreement did not meet the directions given to me and staff by regional council I would not have signed the agreement,” Anderson wrote.
The incoming council meets Dec. 8, and critics of the controversial energy-from-waste plant argued Anderson should have held off on signing the deal until it could be studied and debated by the new council.
After it’s sworn in, council’s first order of business is expected to be a vote on whether Anderson remains as regional chair.
Steele said he expects the meeting to be packed and furious.
He said the previous council only saw broad strokes of the contract before it was signed.
“That should have went back to council to be discussed,” Steele said.
York Region is a 20 per cent partner in the incinerator, which will handle 140,000 tonnes of trash a year, creating power in the process.
It’s to be built in Clarington using federal gas-tax funding.
Steele said the only alternative now to stop the incinerator is for council to pay whatever penalties might be imposed and look at other technologies for managing trash.
“At any cost, I think we should stop that incinerator,” Steele said. “Whatever the cost is, pay and get out of it.”
In an online poll this fall, about half the 28 regional councillors said they wanted to stop the project.

Anderson signs incinerator agreement
Move paves way for construction to start in 2011
By Keith Gilligan Durham Region.com Nov 25, 2010
DURHAM — Regional Chairman Roger Anderson has signed an agreement to build an incinerator in Clarington.
Mr. Anderson confirmed he had signed off on the agreement on Thursday, less than one week after the provincial Environment Ministry approved the environmental assessment for the facility.
“I think the current council spent four years dealing with this issue. It’s been read by I can’t tell you by how many people. It’s been peer reviewed by the Region and peer reviewed by Clarington. For 18 months, it was reviewed by the Province of Ontario, the minister of the environment. They all said it’s correct and will operate the way we say it will,” Mr. Anderson said.
When Regional Council approved the energy-from-waste facility, it gave Mr. Anderson authority to sign the contract with Covanta Energy without coming back to council for approval.
“It’s my obligation as chairman to do what council tells me to do,” he stated.
The facility will also take trash from York Region. During its final meeting of the council term on Thursday, York Chairman Bill Fisch said he had also signed the agreement.
“After speaking with Chair Fisch, our CAO, our finance commissioner, our works commissioner, our legal team here and in Toronto, there was no reason for me not to sign,” Mr. Anderson said. “The job of the chair is to do the will of council and that’s what I did.”
With the agreement now signed, the next step is the site plan process with Clarington. Construction would start next year with the facility ready to operate in 2014.
Covanta Energy will design, build and operate the facility, which carries a price tag of about $270 million.
Some winners in the recent municipal election had wanted Mr. Anderson to hold off on signing the agreement until the new Regional council could examine the deal.
New councillors will be sworn in on Dec. 8.
“Don’t think I signed this without speaking to a great majority of them,” Mr. Anderson said.


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