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Mono ‘facing a new threat’

June 24, 2015   ·   0 Comments

 

The Mono Mulmur Citizens’ Coalition (MC2 ) has, over the past twenty years,  played two roles in our community: providing information to the public on important issues; and, working to prevent developments which we feel are a threat to our wonderful local environment.

We are now facing a new threat, the arrival of large amounts of landfill from sites in the Greater Toronto Metro area. Our main concerns are that much of this fill arrives in our area without testing for contamination and without in-depth analysis of the impact of this fill on local water sources. As a Headwaters community, we have a particular issue because of the possibility of contamination finding its way not only into ground water supplies, and wells supplying our homes, but also into the major rivers that have their source in Dufferin County. Our concern is amplified by the fact that some of the largest fill projects in Ontario have turned out to be contaminated. There is no place for this sort of project in our community.

We have been asking who is responsible for the control and regulation of fill dumping in Ontario. For most of the large projects, the ones that provide the largest threats, we had the expectation that the Province would be doing this work.

After all, the Minister of the Environment (MOE) has said that ensuring a well controlled fill industry, free from contamination and threats to water resources, is a major priority. It turns out, however, that the MOE is not playing a significant  role.

It has mostly delegated the responsibility, and the associated costs, to local communities – in Dufferin’s case, the Towns and Townships.

A case in point is the current application of a local farmer to dump several thousand loads of fill on his farm in Mono. Mono has a fill control by-law, and is target of an attempt to have its law declared invalid in the case of this farmer’s proposal. He has applied to the Normal Farm Practices Board (NFPPB), a group set up by the Ministry of Agriculture (OMAFRA) to stop municipalities from blocking traditional farm practices.  For example this Board would review by-laws controlling the use of manure to fertilize fields because of the smell offending non-farming neighbours. Mono is a party in this fill case before the NFPPB and is tasked with opposing a proposal which many of its citizens feel is very risky and inappropriate.

The Province remains outside this debate, except to the extent that if the Mono farmer’s case is upheld by the NFPPB, there is a great risk that Provincial policy will have been clarified and normal farm practices will include the massive dumping of landfill. It has also become apparent that one Provincial department (MOE) has taken the approach that this matter is not a provincial responsibility, while another (OMAFRA) is saying “yes it is”.

What can we as citizens do? Write to your MPP, to the Minister of the Environment, to the Minister of Agriculture, and to the Premier requesting that the government take action to protect our communities and our water supplies from potential contamination and interruption with normal water flows. Send letters and petitions to the NFPPB. Call your Town and Provincial representatives when you see fill trucks operating on our roads.

Additionally, you can support your local Council in fighting this initiative, and you can tell the Councilors that you expect a full scale aggressive battle on this. Attend meetings to show your concerns and to learn about this threat.

A Mono Council meeting will hear a presentation at its June 23 Meeting (9 am to 10 am) from an expert on other fill cases in Ontario and on building the most effective possible by-law to oppose fill proposals. On July 20, at the Mono Town Offices there will be a pre-hearing of the NFPPB regarding this case. Large crowds will send a strong message about community feelings on this issue.

As residents of Dufferin County, we face the possibility of multiple fill sites being opened. The current case is critical, and if you are concerned, take action.

Don MacFarlane

President, MC2

         

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