Citizen reps say they lack expertise to assess plan
The Taro industrial dump’s community liaison committee won’t take a stand on owner Newalta Corp.’s bid to pile waste higher at the site, leaving it to others, including the city, to weigh in on the plan’s technical merits.
Citizen members on Monday agreed instead to simply inform the Ministry of the Environment they’re satisfied the public has been consulted and given the chance to comment – although only 10 people have done so thus far.
“We’re not considered to be experts on any of this stuff. We’re here to represent the community,” said Brad Hart, one of three citizen reps. “It wasn’t asked that all of a sudden we become environmental engineers and understand it.”
Area councillor Brad Clark suggested the neutral stand as a way “out of a box” the CLC was in because it didn’t have independent experts to critique the plan, which would limit the site to its current footprint but pile waste 4.5 metres higher than allowed by existing approvals.
He said the CLC has done all it can to ensure people are aware of the plan, including by holding a special meeting in July, insisting all documents be made publicly available and pushing Newalta to extend an initial Aug. 5 deadline for commenting to Sept. 30.
The company also advertised the proposal twice in the Stoney Creek News and circulated flyers to residents within 1.5 kilometres of the site, located at the southwest corner ofUpper Centennial ParkwayandGreen Mountain Road.
“I don’t know what else the CLC could do,”Clarksaid. “We did reach out as best as we could, and the company did, but the CLC has pushed them to do it.”
Clark said the city is still assessing the proposal, but will likely raise concerns about the new height, potential odor and dust impacts on new homes being built to the north and south, and the scrapping of a planned new entrance offMud Street.
He said the city’s lawyers are already objecting to the ministry’s view that the redesign is exempt from the Environmental Bill of Rights, which would require broader public consultation and allow any decision to be appealed.
“We think the EBR is being flushed. It’s slowly being dismissed,”Clarksaid, accusing the provincial Liberal government of putting business interests ahead of the public’s.
“More and more instruments (proposals) are not being filed on the EBR. I don’t even know what it’s worth anymore.”
William Alvey, a supervisor with the ministry’s Hamilton district office, said a final decision on the EBR exemption has yet to be made despite a letter from the approvals branch stating that the redesign “is exempt” because the site already underwent an environmental assessment prior to its approval in 1995.
“It should be, ‘it may be exempt’ upon receipt,” he said, noting Newalta has yet to submit a formal application to the ministry. “‘Is’ is a very finalized word. ‘May’ would be a better word for it.”
Newalta communications director Greg Jones said of the 10 public comments received as of Monday, half were opposed to the redesign and the rest asked questions.
He said contrary to one letter’s concerns, the proposal isn’t expanding the site, since Newalta is reducing the footprint by 18 hectares by Green Mountain Road, an area that will be brought up to grade with clean fill, not waste.
CLC chair Johnathon Williams said he sees the benefit of the redesign as long as Newalta or a new owner doesn’t change its mind in 10 years’ time and seek approval to put waste where the clean fill will go.
“That would be a failure,” he said. “That is my biggest concern.”
More information on the plan is available at www.newalta.com\landfilldesign.