The right to ap­prove land­fill sites

It’s now time for the Ford govern­ment to keep its prom­ise to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties

The Peterborough Examiner - - Opinion - TED COMISKEY Ted Comiskey is the mayor of Inger­soll, and chair of the provincewide coali­tion of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties de­mand­ing the right to ap­prove new land­fill sites. For more in­for­ma­tion go to www.de­mandtheright.ca

Af­ter nearly five months in of­fice, On­tar­i­ans are get­ting a good sense of whether Premier Doug Ford truly be­lieves, as he said on the cam­paign trail, that he re­spects “the right for lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to make the de­ci­sions best for their com­mu­ni­ties.”

It’s be­com­ing in­creas­ingly clear this was no throw­away line. The premier said what he meant and meant what he said.

In just over 100 days, the premier has shown re­peat­edly he be­lieves lo­cal gov­ern­ments are best equipped to de­cide what’s best for their res­i­dents.

Gut­ting the Wynne govern­ment’s nanny-state ap­proach to re­tail cannabis leg­is­la­tion and al­low­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties a veto on whether to host re­tail stores has been this govern­ment’s most vis­i­ble an­nounce­ment. But it’s not the only one.

Shortly af­ter be­ing elected, the Ford govern­ment can­celled 458 wind and so­lar pro­jects that were be­ing forced on un­will­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

It also can­celled a provincewide ban on va­p­ing that would have taken the right to de­cide from On­tario’s 400-plus mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Whether you be­lieve these were the right de­ci­sions or not, what is un­de­ni­able is that this govern­ment has sys­tem­at­i­cally re­lin­quished con­trol from the province of many is­sues and re­turned it to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties where, I ar­gue, it rightly be­longs.

So now it’s time for Ford to keep his cam­paign prom­ise of pro­vid­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties with the right to ap­prove land­fill sites.

As the leader of the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives dur­ing the 2018 elec­tion, then-can­di­date Ford com­mit­ted to sup­port Ernie Harde­man’s pri­vate mem­ber’s bill that would have cre­ated leg­is­la­tion to en­trench and en­force this right. He also pledged to in­tro­duce sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion once he formed a govern­ment.

The im­me­di­ate con­cern of my mu­nic­i­pal col­leagues and me across On­tario is what the govern­ment and pri­vate waste op­er­a­tors call in­dus­trial, com­mer­cial and in­sti­tu­tional waste (ICI).

Most mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties aren’t re­spon­si­ble for its col­lec­tion and man­age­ment.

Our re­spon­si­bil­ity is for res­i­den­tial waste. Here, On­tario mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties di­vert about 50 per cent of res­i­den­tial waste away from land­fill and into re­cy­cling and re­use pro­grams. For the pri­vate-op­er­a­tor-run ICI waste sec­tor, their di­ver­sion rate is less than 15 per cent, with most of it com­ing from the GTA.

How much ICI waste are we talk­ing about?

The En­vi­ron­men­tal Com­mis­sioner of On­tario tells us that it’s 6.7 mil­lion tonnes a year, enough to fill the Rogers Cen­tre 724 times over.

That means that pri­vate waste com­pa­nies man­age about 70 per cent of waste in On­tario yet only 15 per cent it is di­verted from land­fill. And the abil­ity of these com­pa­nies to build new land­fill sites and even ex­pand cur­rent ones is unim­peded by any ap­proval needed from the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in which they op­er­ate.

It’s easy to see why those op­posed to our de­mand don’t want mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in­volved.

They’ll tell you the garbage must go some­where. They’ll tell you they don’t need an­other layer of so-called bu­reau­cracy. And they’ll tell you no com­mu­nity would vol­un­tar­ily host a land­fill site.

They’d be wrong. There are will­ing hosts. It’s just that On­tario com­mu­ni­ties are no longer will­ing to be ig­nored in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process.

It’s just not my com­mu­nity of Inger­soll. It’s also cities such as Hamil­ton, Sar­nia and Ot­tawa, and re­gions such as Peel and Durham.

Each of these mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments have passed mo­tions de­mand­ing that mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments have the right to ap­prove. And a sur­vey of all On­tar­i­ans found that eight of 10 res­i­dents sup­port this de­mand.

In April, then PC MPs Ernie Harde­man, Steven Clark, Sylvia Jones and oth­ers stood with me in front of Queen’s Park and pledged their sup­port for mu­nic­i­pal rights for land­fill ap­proval. To­day, all three are cabi­net min­is­ters.

They, along with this govern­ment, have shown an ad­mirable re­spect for the rights of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, across the board.

So, I am ask­ing the Ford govern­ment to con­tinue along its path to sup­port and en­trench mu­nic­i­pal ap­proval rights.

Please, in­tro­duce the leg­is­la­tion you promised to pro­vide mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments with the right to ap­prove.

Min­is­ter Harde­man has al­ready cre­ated a good draft of this leg­is­la­tion.

Let’s get that draft walked over to the Min­is­ter of the En­vi­ron­ment Rod Phillips and get it voted on.

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