SPENCERVILLE -- Leeds and Grenville MPP Gord Brown has predicted that proposed sale of a certified counties landfill site to an Ottawa waste management company will be killed by council following a heated information meeting on the issue Feb. 16.
The meeting at Spencerville's Drummond building drew about 300 mostly agitated residents who gave a collective thumbs-down to the possible sale. By the end of the evening, at least two counties councillors had indicated they had heard loud and clear and would adhere to residents' wishes. At one point, residents in favour of the sale were asked to show their hands; none were raised.
Brown didn't address the meeting but said he opposed the plan and had been told by councillors it'll be denied at their next meeting. Pat Sayeau, mayor of Edwardsburgh/Cardinal in which the 165-acre site know as ED-19 is located, was one counties council member convinced to reject sale of the site.
None of the regional councillors formally addressed the meeting. It was left to Leeds and Grenville CAO Andy Brown to present the background on the purchase offer and to try to maintain order in the hall. Faced with repeated angry questions and residents who wouldn't stand down, at one point the CAO suggested he might have to terminate the meeting.
As Andy Brown informed the crowd, ED-19 sprung from a regional waste master plan developed for $2.6 million in the 1990s. The particular site scored high because of limited development in the area and subsurface conditions allegedly providing a high level of protection for groundwater.
The land was purchased for $380,000, with 35 core acres designated for landfill. In 1998, it was awarded a provisional Certificate of Approval with no expiry date for receiving 50,000 tonnes of counties waste per year over a 25-year lifespan.
The site was never developed by the counties because there was no need and no funds available. Eventually, Tomlinson Waste Management of Ottawa took an interest. While there have been negotiations, there's no purchase deal, the CAO insisted.
Much to the dismay of protestors, Ministry of Environment Kingston-based regional manager Peter Taylor stated the C of A is still valid and there are no plans to review it. It'll remain in effect even if the site is sold, Taylor confirmed.
Adam Fawcett was one of several area landowners who came to the mic repeatedly to reiterate loudly that landscapes can change over 20 years and that conditions that applied in the 1990s may no longer be the same. For one thing, Fawcett insisted, the site is much wetter now than it was then.
Residents were mildly reassured to learn from Taylor that Tomlinson would not be permitted to expand the dump site without undergoing a new approval process. In all, the counties own 478 acres surrounding the site and Tomlinson is looking to buy all of it.
While a certificate is in place for a 35-acre landfill, any owner would have to comply with current environmental legislation including climate change, operational and design requirements, leachate management, landfill gas, and species at risk.
Among many complaints voiced by objectors was that dumps often start small only to grow into massive eyesores and sources of pollution such as Ottawa's infamous Carp Garbage Mountain which has contaminated neighbouring wells while constantly generating foul odours.
In addition to the smell, appearance, possible water contamination, and heavy truck traffic, audience members were worried about loss of property values, especially young couples who've invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in new homes without being aware of the dormant dump site on their doorstep.
Interveners sought guarantees that, if a landfill went ahead, the size would be restricted to the original 35 acres and there'd be compensation for lost property values. No such guarantees were forthcoming.
Local resident Clare Kinlin, chair of the Certified Crop Association, urged councillors to take a look in the mirror and wonder if a dump in a pristine wetland is the kind of legacy they want to leave behind.