Landfill sites — and wider questions about our waste

A post that I wrote for the Waging Nonviolence web site –
"Indigenous and water rights activists protest Canadian landfill"

Inasmuch as that opposition to the Tiny Township dump is a ‘Not-in-my-backyard’ (NIMBY) campaign, it is a lot more justifiable, relative to other such battles. In the Waging Nonviolence post there is some background about the local significance of the conflict. More specifically: there are details about the acquifier under and around the potential landfill site, with details about the indigenous situation in the area.

That post also (more implicitly) points out how the campaign isn’t just about NIMBY issues — since the acquifier under the potential landfill site is connected into the Great Lakes. After entering Lake Huron through Georgian Bay, water contamination from the dumping grounds would spread through the rest of the Great Lakes.

Yet, waste also would reach other areas if it is dumped there instead.  Other landfill sites will be filled up and contaminated if we continue to churn out so much waste.

Of course, other dump site plans also have been challenged here in Ontario. At that basic level, the Tiny Township campaign is not unique.
(Awhile back, my grandparents were part of one campaign against landfill plans to the east of the site 41.)

In a London ‘Free’ Press article, Chip Martin has written about some of conflicts around dump site plans, elsewhere in Ontario. Here’s an exerpt –

"The pitched battle to keep Southwestern Ontario from becoming Ontario’s garbage can has worn out politicians and environmental activists.

And they point the finger of blame at a provincial government they say makes it easier to truck garbage away than force municipalities to deal with it in their own backyards.

The fight against trash imports to Southwestern Ontario took off in the early 1990s, just as Toronto’s landfill was filling up and it starting
looking for new dumping grounds for its garbage mountains."

Mr. Martin elaborates on those points in his article. (A lot of that write-up is based around remarks from mayors.)

Other landfill sites may not have aquifiers, but setting up dumps there probably would entail some form of groundwater pollution, nonetheless.
Native groups also likely would be targetted by officials seeking to unload waste on relatively powerless victims.

So the opposition towards the Tiny Township dump site could be more constructive if it were connected with efforts to challenge or at least raise questions about waste outputs — rather than assuming that all of this waste will be dumped somewhere. Although I certainly am opposed to the site 41 dump plans, I also think that we ultimately should try to accomplish more — beyond scuttling plans to set up a single dump site.

That said, campaigners should focus on the local situation in Tiny Township over the next week — while officials are deciding whether or not they will grant a moratorium.

But people who choose to focus on the Tiny Township campaign still could devote some of their attention and efforts to related issues — including wider waste problems which I have been alluding to here.

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