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Political garbage stinks: McGuinty (11/03)

Gord McGuinty has every confidence his Adams Mine project will be up and operating by the end of 2005.

Gord McGuinty has every confidence his Adams Mine project will be up and operating by the end of 2005.

With Michigan’s swelling opposition to Toronto exporting truckloads of household garbage to Metro Detroit, and the very real possibility of long border tie-ups, the head of the Adams Mine Rail Haul believes it is inevitable that the City of Toronto and Queen’s Park will look north again for a solution.

In fact, he is preparing to proceed with some preliminary groundwork this fall on the former Kirkland Lake open pit mine with an objective to accept 1.3 million tonnes per year of waste as Ontario’s only licensed available mega-landfill site.

“We intend to start construction within the month,” McGuinty says. “And there is nothing out there that will prohibit us from doing that.”

He plans to do some rock scaling and design work on the proposed $50-million plan to rail southern Ontario garbage 590 kilometres north via the Canadian National Railway to North Bay for the Ontario Northland Railway to haul to the pit.

Even if the political will is not there to reconsider Kirkland Lake, McGuinty still holds a provincial conditional Certificate of Approval of his landfill design and groundwater containment technology.

He is seeking a permit from the Ministry of Environment to de-water the pit, which he expects to receive, once the ministry has finished its due diligence on his application.

He says it is time for the “politics of garbage” to end.

Tired and frustrated against what he considers a “sham” campaign of alleged misinformation being spread about the Adams Mine, McGuinty is taking legal action against the Temiskaming Federation of Agriculture (TFA) and its president John Vanthoff for allegedly making false statements, which have frustrated the project’s development.

The final straw was Vanthoff’s claim that their representatives had been on the Adams Mine property and had taken water elevations and discovered levels were dropping, suggesting containment had failed and the pit was leaking.

McGuinty says he offered to grant Ken Howard, a hydrologist retained by the TFA, a tour of the Adams Mine site, but the offer was declined. He further offered to make his Toronto consultants, Golder Associates, available to review all their technical information, and that offer was also refused.

He defends the environmental assessment process conducted in 1996, as well as the technical work conducted by Golder and the findings of the independent peer review Gartner Lee Ltd., and says that the landfill will not have any impact on the ground water in Timiskaming.

According to his plan, the project would be a huge economic boon to northeastern Ontario. The project would create 88 full-time jobs and provide 55 rail transportation positions.

The minimum projected contract value over 20 years is $1.1 billion with landfill revenues around $575 million.

Rail revenues to the North would be $160 million.

McGuinty recently put out a call for expressions of interest for heavy equipment rentals, general, mechanical, mining, electrical and road building contractors and civil and mining engineering services and aggregate crushing.

Since Toronto closed the Keele Valley dump last year, the city now ships 1.1 million tons a year to Metro Detroit

landfills. Most of it goes to Carleton Farms landfill in Sumpter Township. About 135 trucks carry 3,500 tons of trash from Toronto to the Sumpter Township dump every day.

McGuinty took his voice before a joint House-Senate hearing in Lansing, the state capital in June.

“The message was simple. Ontario has licensed capacity that could help alleviate the problem. They’re shipping three million tonnes to Michigan to date. Our license up there (Kirkland Lake) only allows us to take 1.3 million tonnes a year.

“There is licenced capacity that could be used. The only reason it isn’t being used is political incompetence in Ontario at the municipal and provincial level for having no policy and downloading the decision onto Toronto.”

Despite what his critics say, McGuinty maintains that is the only extent of his lobbying efforts south of the border.

“We’ve not spent one nickel in Michigan trying to frustrate Toronto’s garbage and have hired no lobbyist.... To be

honest we don’t have to, because it’s got a life of it’s own.”

He blames the provincial government for shirking its responsibility to set the rules and act as a regulator in approving sites through the Ministry of Environment.

“For them to say it’s a municipality’s problem, when there’s no capacity that’s licenced in Ontario, is like sticking your head in the sand.

“I’ve been at this 14 years now and I’ve seen so much political incompetence on this, it’s ridiculous. We have a license; we’ve obeyed all the laws and regulations of this province and the landfill is no different from someone wanting to open a mine or opening a new pulp and paper mill.”

He believes the ground swell of opposition is limited to a handful of people in New Liskeard, bankrolled by outside interests.