Democracy kills Site 41

Sep 22, 2009

By Dale Goldhawk

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Site 41 is dead. Long live the residents of Simcoe County.

It was a great morning Tuesday, September 22, when all but three Simcoe County Councillors voted to kill the Simcoe North Landfill, otherwise known as Site 41 or Dumpsite 41 in Tiny Township, Ontario.

There is still work to be done. The Ministry of the Environment’s Certificate of Approval still exists and should be withdrawn. The hole is still in the ground and must be filled. The pure water in the underlying aquifer must be preserved. And, already, Warden Tony Guergis is floating the idea of a recycling transfer site or some other waste management use for Site 41. Give it up, Tony! But the hard work has been done by the thousands of people who opposed this ill-conceived project.

There were times when I thought we might not win. I should have had more faith in the power that can be brought to bear when so-called ‘ordinary’ people stand firm and courageously to protect the things they hold most dear. And there is nothing in this world that has more value for humans than fresh water. There is nothing we cannot accomplish together and, by the way, there is nothing ordinary about anyone who joined this extraordinary battle.

The vote was overwhelming. As a caller told me on AM740’s Goldhawk Fights Back, councillors were sending a message. After 25 years of holding to one idea, councillors were saying they can heed their constituents and they can make democracy work. They don’t need a PR campaign to show their responsibility, all they need is to respect the intelligence and the common sense of the people they are supposed to represent.

For now, the fight is won by a weighted vote of 93 – 13 in favour of Councillor Doug Little’s motion to stop construction and future development of Site 41. This is a huge victory and one to savour.

Now, we turn our attention back to Shakespeare, Ontario, where 750 people fear their homes and way of life will be sacrificed so traffic can move a bit quicker between Stratford and Kitchener-Waterloo without the bother of this 177-year-old village.

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