CENTRAL MANITOULIN—While they didn’t say it directly at a water, waste and education committee meeting last week, Central Manitoulin councillors are evidently furious that the municipality has been told by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) that its only operating landfill will need to close.
During what seemed to be an innocent enough conversation about the idea of holding waste free Wednesdays in the municipality and having municipal office staff look into this at the committee meeting, the discussion turned when Councilor Dale Scott stated, “maybe we should be talking about the landfill pressure the ministry (of Environment, Conservation and Parks) is putting on us. I would like to speak publicly.” He noted the Manitoulin Municipal Association (MMA) is asking municipalities if they have anything items to add to their next meeting agenda and that this issue should be on the list.
Councillor Scott said the municipality has received a landfill edict from the ministry. “I agree if we have not explored every option to reduce the waste going to our landfill is not being put in place then this could happen, but we have done everything the ministry wants us to.” He pointed out the costs to close the Providence Bay landfill will probably be in excess of the more than $1.25 million it cost to close of the Spring Bay landfill.
“I couldn’t agree more,” stated Councillor Derek Stephens. “What the government is inflicting upon us is wrong, the deadlines are wrong and it will cost the municipality an awful lot of money. This should be a public issue, the ministry is screwing the municipality and will screw us out of millions of dollars.”
Councillor Scott told the committee members the municipality has done everything it can, and that the ministry has over the years asked the municipality to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill and to allow it to remain in operation. “Then the ministry walks in and tells us what we are to do with the property and that our landfill will be closed. Personally, I think we should fight it, and this is all taking place without members of the public hearing the issues involved.”
Other municipalities on the Island need to know what is happening, Councillor Scott told the committee. “We are the only municipality on the Island being centred out for this treatment,” stated Councillor Stephens. “We have been marked. The government is planning to have all landfills closed and have garbage hauled to other places the norm. Pretty soon all garbage on Manitoulin Island will be hauled off the Island.”
“And this is all time sensitive,” said Councillor Stephens. “We have done everything the ministry has required to keep our landfill open over the years and now all of a sudden the ministry has done an about face.”
“We have to make this public and the MMA needs to know what is being done,” said Councillor Scott.
Councillor Stephens said that MPP Michael Mantha and MP Carol Hughes need to be informed on what is happening.
The committee then discussed going in camera to consider an issue.
“Can we discuss the issue out of camera?” asked Councillor Stephens.
Councillor Scott noted, “this is on a pending closure plan and land acquisition.”
“If we decide in our in-camera meeting that we want to say it when we are out of the in camera meeting, we can do that,” said committee chair and Councillor Al Tribinevicius.
“Why are we not letting the public know what the issue is?” asked Councillor Stephens.
Council agreed to go into its in-camera meeting. Once it was finished this portion of the meeting and the meeting was open to the public once again, council passed several motions. One was to direct the municipal clerk on the land acquisition negotiations as was discussed at the in camera meeting. This motion was put forward by Councillor Rose Diebolt and seconded by Councillor Scott.
A second motion was passed that council seek legal advice as directed at the in-camera meeting, put forward by Mayor Stephens and seconded by Councillor Steve Shaffer.
A third motion was passed on a recommendation from the committee to council for the clerk of the municipality to write the MECP minister on the discussion committee members had in-camera, with Councillors Scott and Tribinevicius bringing the motion forward and seconding it.
The fourth motion passed by the committee was to table the information presented at the in-camera meeting to the next meeting of the committee. This was brought forward by Councillor Diebolt and seconded by Mayor Stephens. Councilor Steve Shaffer opposed this motion.
The Expositor has deduced the proposed closure of a landfill in the municipality is in Providence Bay, as it is the only landfill the municipality is operating in the municipality.
The Expositor was unable to reach anyone from the MECP for comment prior to this week’s press deadline.