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2006 11 09
Take Your Trash Back!

Anyone who cared enough to think about Toronto's new garbage disposal plan, knew that it would generate more problems than it solved - in the long run. Today's Globe and Mail story on the Oneida native reserve's reaction to the dump illustrates the point. Toronto's newly purchased dump sits just two short kilometers from the edge of the Oneida property. Home to 2,000, they have owned the land - forgive the irony here - for almost 200 years.

The biggest nearby city is London, Ontario. The Thames river meanders through London on its way south, by the Oneida, to Lake Erie. There are no major settlements further downstream. Oneida Creek runs by our new dump, through the reserve and into the Thames River. Since our dump's pollution will flow away from London, the people there have not voiced complaints but it is easy to imagine that this garbage pit would never had been considered if it threatened to even marginally pollute their stretch of the river.

However, the needs and concerns of a small band of native Canadians living downstream from the dump received no media attention when Miller announced the purchase a few months ago. The band gets its water from the river here. Torontonians breathed a collective sigh of relief with the thought that their garbage was now, thankfully, 200 kilometers away and someone else's problem. Dumps in north Toronto bad - dumps next to native land good, is our mantra, or so it seems.

This is not a minor PR problem that will go away soon. The results of our NIMBYism will return to haunt Toronto when people who for centuries had no political voice decide not to literally be our dumping-ground any more.

What is the answer? We have to take immediate steps to reduce the packaging that makes up so much of our waste. We have to improve our recycling efficiency. We have to consider other methods of disposal like gasification and co-generation. And we have to deal with our waste close to home and stop offloading it on people who don't want it. Only then will Toronto come close to being the "world class" city it imagines itself to be.
[email this story] Posted by R Ouellette on 11/09 at 12:52 PM

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