Council supports municipalities’ rights over landfill developments

KAGAWONG—The municipality of Billings is in support of a request to Ontario by other municipalities requesting the province ensures its made-in-Ontario environmental plan includes a municipality’s right to approve landfill developments.

“This issue came up at a meeting in Toronto that (Councillor) Bryan (Barker) and I attended,” Billings Mayor Ian Anderson told members of council at a meeting last week. “This motion was initiated by several municipalities who stated they were concerned that there is a real risk that they could end up with Toronto’s garbage and have no say on the issue.”

“This is pretty serious,” said Mayor Anderson. “This group of municipalities are requesting support from municipalities across the province.”

Billings council passed a motion in support of the motion which reads in part, “Landfill approval, we demand the right. Municipalities call on province to ensure its ‘Made -in-Ontario Environmental Plan’ includes municipal right to approval on landfill developments.”

The motion notes municipal governments in Ontario do not have the right to approve landfill projects in their communities, but have authority for making decisions on all other types of development. This outdated policy allows private landfill operators to consult with local residents and municipal councils, but essentially ignore them. Ontario’s proposed ‘Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan’ states that the province will grant municipalities a “greater say in siting of landfills.”

The motion asserts that municipalities already have exclusive rights for approving casinos and nuclear waste facilities within their communities and whether to host cannabis retail outlets within their communities. The province has recognized the value of municipal approval for the siting of power generation facilities, the motion continues: “and whereas, the recent report from Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner has found that Ontario has a garbage problem, particularly from industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) waste generated within the City of Toronto, where diversion rates are as low as 15 percent.”

“Unless significant efforts are made to increase recycling and diversion rates, a new home for this Toronto garbage will need to be found as landfill space is filling up quickly,” the motion continues. “And whereas municipalities across Ontario are quietly being identified and targeted as potential landfill sites for future Toronto garbage by private landfill operators, other communities should not be forced to take Toronto waste. Landfills can contaminate local watersheds, air quality, dramatically increase heavy truck traffic on community roads, and reduce the quality of life for local residents.”

The municipalities indicate they should be considered experts in waste management as they are responsible for this within their own communities and often have decades worth of in-house expertise in managing waste, recycling and diversion programs.”

“Whereas municipalities should have the exclusive right to approve or reject these projects and assess whether the potential economic impacts are of sufficient value to offset any negative impacts and environmental concerns; therefore be it resolved that the Township of Billings calls upon the Government of Ontario as part of its ‘Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan’ to formally entrench the right of municipalities to approve or reject landfill projects in or adjacent to their communities; and, that in the case of a two-tier municipality, the approval be required at both the upper-tier and affected lower-tier municipalities.”

And further that the township of Billing encourage all other municipalities in Ontario to consider this motion calling for immediate provincial action.

And that the motion adopted by council be forwarded to the Demand the Right Coalition of Ontario Municipalities.” 

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