Central considering landfill solution without incineration

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CENTRAL MANITOULIN—Facing a Ministry of Environment 2023 deadline for the closure of the community’s last landfill site in Providence Bay and the prospect of having to truck waste out of the community to an off-Island site at great expense, Central Manitoulin council voted at its June 9 meeting to enter into an arrangement with Gagnon Renewables Inc. to be the host of its Waste Processing Facility Project—pending confirmation of a suitable location.

In a series of motions, council agreed to provide the proponent with permission to access the Providence Bay landfill site, provide Gagnon Renewables Inc. with a legal land description and map, the current zoning of the land and a current copy of the municipality’s environmental compliance approval certificate (ECA).

The municipality also supported Gagnon Renewable Resources Inc.’s application for Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) funding for a waste audit that would determine the amount of waste available to fuel the site.

Council also agreed to permit  the company to seek support from five other municipalities (not named in the motion) as co-applicants to the NOHFC.

There was concern expressed by members of the public in attendance over the lack of detail about the project as revealed in the chat discussion during the online council meeting. Previous discussion of the project with Gagnon were held at the property committee level, in camera.

“There really isn’t a lot to talk about yet,” said Central Manitoulin Mayor Richard Stephens. “This is in a very, very preliminary stage.” The mayor noted that the in-camera discussions were held under the property acquisition provisions of the Municipal Act. “There really isn’t any story here yet,” he added.

The mayor noted that the council was investigating all possibilities, given the generally unpalatable choices it currently has before it when it comes to dealing with the community’s waste. He said that his view is that the waste being created on Manitoulin should be dealt with on Manitoulin, rather than being trucked to another community at great expense.

Mayor Stephens was emphatic that what was being proposed “is not an incinerator.”

“It is simply an idea we are pursuing,” he said, noting that council has an obligation to find a solution.

During debate, Councillor Al Tribinevicius noted that discussions with Gagnon first began in March 2020 but had been curtailed by the pandemic. He pointed out that the facility being proposed was “state-of-the-art” and in use in other jurisdictions.

Councillor Steve Shaffer made a proposal to support the project “in principle” due to its early stage, but Councillor Derek Stephens pointed out the NOHFC application would carry more weight with unqualified support from the municipality. Councillor Dale Scott agreed.

Councillor Tribinevicius said he believed that, should the project get to the point of providing a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to going ahead, this would likely be three or more years down the road.

The motions presented to council were passed without dissent.