Saturday, April 08, 2006

Residents Plan to Fight Proposed WSI Landfill Expansion

A small group of residents from Notre-Dame-des-Champs are banding together with likeminded individuals from Orléans to fight the proposed expansion of the WSI landfill site on Navan Road.

The 32 acre site is expected to reach capacity by 2011. WSI is in the process of putting together the terms of reference for an environmental assessment with the purpose of extending the lifespan of the facility an additional 10-15 years by increasing the height of the site or expanding the footprint.

The final say will be up to the Ontario Ministry of Environment which is expected to rule on the application in 2007.

Opponents of the proposed expansion say WSI’s plans ignore the changing dynamic of the surrounding community.
When the landfill site was first established in the 1960s, it was in the middle of the nowhere. Today, it sits on the edge of a growing residential community that is about to see the addition of two new sub-divisions north and south of Navan Road.

Opposition to the expansion plans is being led by a group called the Friends of the Mer Bleue which successfully fought a previous owner eight years ago when the site began accepting restaurant waste. Today the site only accepts construction debris and household items like furniture, appliances and renovation materials.

Friends of Mer Bleue vice-chair Edwin Morton says the group doesn’t have any problem with WSI and the management of the current site per se. In fact, he has nothing but praise for the waste management company which took over the facility five years ago.

“We have no issue with the current operation,” says Morton. “They’ve been a very good community neighbour. It’s just a matter of whether or not the expansion plans are appropriate in the middle of a growing residential community.”

Morton’s sentiments are echoed by the local city councillor and MPP. Both Innes Ward Coun. Rainer Bloess and Ottawa-Orléans MPP Phil McNeely agree WSI has an exemplary record when it comes to trying to address the concerns of the local residents.

WSI’s district manager of landfill operations, Norm Castonguay, says he personally returns calls to local residents and has even gone out and met with individual homeowners on occasion.

As part of the process in developing the terms of reference for the environmental assessment, WSI plans to hold no fewer than four public meetings. They’ve already held two including a workshop and information session on Saturday. Two more are in the works.

The Friends of the Mer Bleue plan to hold their own information session next Thursday at the Notre-Dame-des-Champs Community Centre.

In trying to extend the lifespan of their facility, WSI wants to increase the allowable height of the site up to 25 metres. The current limit which has already been met in several areas is 90 metres. Another option is to extend the western edge of the site up to 100 metres while maintaining a significant buffer zone created by the purchase of an adjacent property.
WSI’s application comes at a time when the province is trying to deal with a dwindling number of landfill sites.

Creating new sites is a complicated and politically difficult business – not to mention extremely expensive.

If the Ministry of Environment turns down WSI’s expansion plans, companies and private individuals would have to take their waste to the city run Trail Road landfill site in Goulbourn which would impact the life expectancy of that facility, or the Moose Creek landfill site in North Stormont.


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