There’s no issue that’s dirtier, smellier and more inconvenient than garbage – as everyone in Toronto can attest to as it piles up in their parks.
It’s an essential municipal service, one of the key responsibilities municipalities have, along with safe drinking water and sewage treatment. It’s part of the triumvirate of the basic services essential for living together.
And the trouble is there’s no good place for garbage. No one wants it near them. No one wants it burned – for example, incinerated – near their home. No one wants it hauled past their home en route to a faraway dump, with the costs, fuel fumes and disturbance that massive truckloads of trash cause.
So, after more than 20 years, the question remains what to do with North Simcoe’s trash?
There is no easy answer, unfortunately.
Simcoe County has examined the costs of incinerating and hauling garbage out of the area; they are much more than developing a landfill site and these costs blend both financial and environmental.
And despite our best efforts to divert through recycling and composting, there are some items that are destined for landfill. Until we can get manufacturers to take responsibility for packaging – we will fill our garbage cans with stuff that will likely be buried. A prime example is the packaging on a toy truck. The array of refuse includes screws, hard plastic tags that allow the car to be attached to a boxboard frame – that’s put inside a larger box, with a plastic window to showcase the item. Around some, but not all, is a layer of shrink wrap.
Getting to the toy takes as much determination and persistence as fighting – or building – Site 41in Tiny Township. Successive municipal administrations have been looking for a spot for North Simcoe’s waste for more than 20 years.
For the county, gaining access to the site has been fraught with frustration, as have opponents’ requests for information. The latest development is that the Community Monitoring Committee has been denied a groundwater model because it is deemed proprietary information by the county’s consultants.
If someone hires and pays a firm to do a model, isn’t that information theirs?
The refusal to release the information does nothing to reduce concerns about groundwater, but in fact increases suspicions and concerns about the site.
Part of the answer is in coming clean – opening up discussion, while putting a temporary moratorium on construction. We have learned a lot about groundwater and source water protection in the past 20 years. We also value the finite resource.
The keys would be honesty and openness, rather than attempts to bury inconvenient facts, which will inevitably leach out into our minds as time passes and poison us all as we try to care for our environment and live together peacefully.