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Environment Issues

Site 41: It's the same aquifer

Site 41(Queen's Park Report -- August 21, 2009) No other local issue this summer has been as controversial as the development of Site 41, also known as the North Simcoe Landfill in Tiny Township.  Before I begin, let me be perfectly clear.  I am, and always have been, opposed to Site 41.  Frankly, I think we need to take a new approach to how we handle our garbage, which I will explain later, but first I want to put this debate into context and correct some misinformation that I have read and that I hear from people who call my office or talk to me on the street.

I have been involved in a few landfill fights in my time.  In fact, the last dump that was stopped in our riding was done by Mike Harris and I under Progressive Conservative leadership when we closed the gates on a proposed dump site destined for Adjala-Tosorontio. 

Having been through these battles before, I am glad that a number of notable Canadians have joined the fight against this project, but they've joined the fight almost a year after the McGuinty Government gave Site 41 all final approvals.  This is not a new issue.   The development of this landfill has been going on for the past 30 years.   In its final approvals stage, the Operations Plan for the project was approved by the McGuinty Government in 2006 and the Permit to Take Water was granted in 2008.  All final provincial approvals are now complete, thanks to Dalton McGuinty.

A lot has been said about Site 41 being placed over the Alliston aquifer.  I agree that putting a dump over a pristine aquifer is pretty stupid, but it needs to be said that there are currently 16 County landfills, more than 20 private landfills and one belonging to the City of Barrie that are currently situated over this same aquifer.  Some of these landfills were first opened in the 1940s.  According to the Ministry of Environment, the Alliston aquifer stretches south from Tiny Township all the way down to Highway 9. 

We have to be mindful that it is garbage from Midland, Penetanguishene, Tay and Tiny that is destined for Site 41, areas that I do not represent and are not part of our riding.  Most people don't realize this, but the garbage from those North Simcoe municipalities is currently being trucked into our riding to the Nottawasaga Landfill in Stayner on the 30/31 Sideroad and to the Elmvale landfill. 

If people wonder why I don't scream every day from the rooftops, it's because this garbage is being trucked into Simcoe-Grey and dumped over the exact same pristine Alliston aquifer as Site 41.  There are tonnes of people from Stayner, Wasaga Beach and other municipalities who ask me why I am letting garbage from Midland and Penetanguishene come into their community, over the same pristine aquifer that supplies some of the cleanest drinking water in the world.

If Site 41 is stopped, as it should be, then we have another big problem.  The only other landfill site that the County has approvals for is to build at Site 42 in Clearview, near the Collingwood airport.  You'd be crazy to think that there wouldn't be an enormous fight over that too.

Regardless, I have consistently demonstrated my opposition to Site 41 in a number of ways.  I have introduced petitions in the legislature, wrote news columns and spoken out against this in newspapers and on television.  I have also shown my support by attending events, including a Queen's Park rally and the first Elmvale Water Festival and I have rallied against this site in various meeting's I have had over the years with government officials.

I want to congratulate my colleague Garfield Dunlop for taking the lead on this issue.     Site 41 is in his riding, but make no mistake about it, this affects a number of my constituents, namely in the Elmvale area, so I have supported every one of his efforts and it is why I have undertaken many of my own.

Given all of this information, what do we do?  I think we need to take a new approach and move towards energy from waste (incineration) and continue efforts towards waste diversion.  Adjala-Tosorontio has been a leader in this field and we should continue to follow their example.  I hope that County Council will agree to stamp out Site 41 once and for all and quickly move towards waste management alternatives.

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OTHER ARTICLES RELATING TO SITE 41:

Permit to Take Water Delays Site 41

Hansard - Jim Wilson introduces Site 41 petition in the Ontario Legislature

County residents take protest to Queen's Park

Jim at the Queen's Park Site 41 Rally

 


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