Councillor Shelley Carroll

Find out the latest news and upcoming events in your neighborhood. Politics, news, views, and links from Ward 33 Councillor Shelley Carroll.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Waste Stability for 20 Years

It saddens me that in a time when there is great news for Toronto, and on some levels for all of Ontario, I must get on the blog to debunk a lot of misinformation.

With the purchase of Greenlane Landfill, Toronto is now protected from disaster should the Michigan border close prematurely. We are also covered with enough disposal capacity to serve us while we complete our current environmental assessment process, being carried out by 25 appointed citizens and professionals to find the permanent solution to our residual waste. There is ample time to gain all the necessary approvals for whatever is their recommendation, and, of course, the time to build whatever is proposed by this environmental assessment team.

For those who believe we should be utilizing New and Emerging Technology to deal with our residual waste, this landfill represents the ability, at long last, to contemplate it. No city in the world currently using such technologies has ever gone down that road without it taking 10 years from the point contemplation to the first load of garbage being fed into the new system. The purchase of Greenlane means we can stop lunging from one stop gap to another, each successively more expensive, and hunker down to the work of reviewing these technologies. Our Environmental Assessment team will be finalizing all of their research on the matter in 2008 and then the long process of going to you, the community, and to determine where best to site whatever they propose will begin. In any case, such technologies produce some residual that still requires some landfill.

While all this is going on, Toronto will be safe in the knowledge of our fully-owned disposal capacity at Greenlane until the process is done and, all the while, collecting revenues from all those municipalities currently dumping in Greenlane. Given this great news, this morning I am especially sad to see my colleagues manipulating the public with selective tidbits of information while omitting other salient points.

Friday afternoon was the first time a possibility came about to purchase Greenlane as a fully expanded site, with a completed environmental assessment and a full certificate of approval from the Province. Let me emphasize, before that point, such an offer was truly never before the City. Before that certificate of approval was finally awarded the current owner, the landfill expansion was the subject of 100 local public consultations. If Toronto is to be responsible to the people of Ontario, why would we bluster into town and purchase a landfill before any of that important approval process was complete? Furthermore, why would we expose ourselves to the endless legal expense of buying first and getting approvals later? We learned that lesson in Adam's mine, which was a "theory of a place to start a landfill", not a long-practicing landfill with all necessary approvals and assurances such as we find in Greenlane.

Rules of confidentiality in the Municipal Act surround land acquisition to protect the vendor more than the purchasing city. Should all the terms of the offer be placed in the public eye and then turned down, the vendor then loses the opportunity to sell to others with any control over his terms. Confidentiality is heavily enforced with any land acquisition we undertake. Some individuals who have been privy to the information in the Greenlane deal have already demonstrated why the owner of Greenlane, Bob McCaig, had every right to be adamant about the confidentiality and adamant about the speed with which staff must to present the deal to us and get an answer before any leak occurred. Quite frankly, it is being proven in the media, that there are those among us who don't care to keep secrets and don't care how much they expose the City to litigation, especially when they are in the midst of an election.

I ask my many friends and neighbours in Don Valley East to scroll back up to the earlier paragraphs in this post and be comforted that we now have a waste plan and the means to execute it. I ask the residents of Elgin County to be comforted by the buffer lands surrounding Greenlane and know that Toronto has learned some important lessons about treatment of neighbours from our Keele Valley landfill experience. We will be working with you and contributing to the good health as well as the economic growth of your communities.

As my good friend and colleague, Brian Ashton says, "If you are the mayor of a city with 3 million people and a guy walks up and offers you a gold mine or a lndfill site, take the landfill!"