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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Stop Site 41 in Tiny Township Ontario; New Dump Makes No Sense





Photo by BILL SANDFORD FOR THE TORONTO STAR



Aboriginal residents of Christian Island have set up a camp to protest the dump being built across the road. They want the premier to halt construction.





Why would Ontario want to build a new dump:

- 5 miles from Georgian Bay?

- when their own report in 1989 ruled out the site?

- when there are already 2 dormant dumps in the region?

- when the province claims to be moving to a "zero waste " policy?

The interia of 21st century thinking and entrenched business interests seems to be the culprit. Everyone within driving distance of Elmvale (north of Sprimgwater, northeast of wasaga Beach, south of Midland and Christian Island) should try and come out at least once this summer to support the protest against the dump. I am going to try and bring my guitar out there one day to lend my voice to the protest.

Here is a recent article featuring insightful comments from First Nations Regional Chief for Ontario, Angus Toulouse:

First Nations Dump Site Protest

May 19, 2009 - Regional Chief for Ontario, Angus Toulouse, stated his support today for a peaceful protest against the creation of a landfill at "Site 41" in Tiny Township of Georgian Bay, Ontario.

"I fully support this peaceful protest organized by First Nations and non-Aboriginal people who are standing together to protect their environment," Regional Chief Toulouse said. "The people of nearby Beausoleil First Nation have raised concerns about this proposed dump site for some time and these concerns have not been addressed. The health of our people and all people, and the health of the environment are too important to be ignored. It is time for the government to listen to the voices of First Nations and to their constituents."

The peaceful protest took place at a farm near the proposed landfill site. The protesters include men, women and children, First Nations and non-Aboriginal, people from the surrounding area as well as those who have traveled to the site to show their support.

Initially the landfill project was rejected after a 70-day environmental assessment hearing in 1989. However, the government intervened and overturned the decision through an Order in Council. The landfill is currently under construction and is located within eight kilometers of Georgian Bay

"The Beausoleil First Nation was never properly consulted on this landfill and that is contrary to their rights," Regional Chief Toulouse stated. "In addition, there are serious concerns of contamination of drinking water, groundwater, surrounding waters and the destruction of the environment in general. Any destruction to the traditional territory of the Beausoleil First Nation is potentially a violation of their constitutional rights. A respectful dialogue amongst the First Nations, local residents and the Government of Ontario is the way forward. We have duties and responsibilities to our children and to the land and the waters that must inform our decisions and conduct."




May 30th Toronto Star article on dmp site protest:

Long fight over dump near Midland heating up

MOIRA WELSH, ENVIRONMENT REPORTER

ELMVALE, Ont. – At the roadside well where cottagers stop to fill bottles with cold, clear water, a sparkling white sign bears the indignation of a community.

"Purest Water in the World," bellow bold letters. "The dump will fix that! Stop Site 41."

One of dozens planted across Tiny Township, near Midland, the sign is the handiwork of Stephen Ogden, volunteer citizen leader of the long fight against Simcoe County's plan to build a waste disposal facility over lush farmland that bubbles with pure water flowing into Georgian Bay.

More than two decades since it was first proposed, the county's newest garbage dump – approved by the Ontario Environment Ministry – is now under construction, with plans to open in the fall. Twenty hectares in size, it has the capacity to hold 1.6 million cubic metres of garbage from Simcoe County residents, enough space to last roughly 40 to 50 years.

Maude Barlow, named the United Nations' senior adviser on water issues and chair of the Council of Canadians, has thrown her energy into the fight, vowing to lead protests at the site throughout the summer.

"This dump will not open," Barlow vowed.

As trucks with giant wheels roll down the site's gravel roads, Ogden watches outside the locked gates, under the No Trespassing sign.

On the farm across the road is a growing collection of tents and trailers, a vigil manned by aboriginal residents of nearby Christian Island, on Georgian Bay, who say the clarity of the water that flows underground cannot be put at risk.

Leaders like Vicki Monague say they will stay, keeping their sacred fire burning, until Premier Dalton McGuinty stops construction on the site. Monague said the site is on native treaty land, but there has been no consultation from the federal government.

"The federal government has a duty to consult First Nations people when something like this is going on with treaty land," Monague said. "We are here to make our presence known."

Ogden says the protesters have given up on the Ministry of the Environment, which has backed the project for years despite questions about potential for leachate in the water, whether there is a need for a new dump in a province that is leading a charge toward zero waste and why the county's two dormant dumpsites are not being used instead.

If protesters like Monague, Ogden and Barlow claim it is a water and land issue, the chief administrative officer of Simcoe County says they have it all wrong.

"They are trying to make the issue political," Mark Aitken said in a phone interview. "And they are trying to make it all about water. And frankly, the issue is not about water. The issue is about waste. Garbage."

Aitken questioned claims that the water is the "purest in the world," but said that issue is not relevant.

"This site has been designed to be protective of the water resources...."

Ontario's environment commissioner, Gordon Miller, says the battle over Dump Site 41 is a political mystery – a site being built on an aquifer in 2009, using an engineering concept proposed in the early 1990s.

"If we were to start this process today, we would not build this site," Miller said.

"Is it going to fail? Not likely. There will be so much money and engineering spent on it."

But protesters across the road from the dump site are taking no chances.

"We are responsible for the water, for the future generations, and we are not going to leave until the site is closed," said Monague.

Locals are donating fresh food to the protesters and clean drinking water is coming from a tap behind the farmer's hill, all under the watchful eye of an OPP officer.

"We're going to let the premier watch. We don't have to do anything," Ogden said.

"You can be sure that the police are calling him to let him know if things are going to heat up and interfere with his summer holidays."

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