All that American whining about Toronto's garbage crossing the U.S-Canadian border to be dumped in rural Michigan is music to the ears of landfill developers up in Kirkland Lake. In fact, the sound is so darned pleasing that Gordon McGuinty, managing director of the waste disposal consortium Adams Mine Rail Haul, recently headed down to the States to see if he could turn up the volume. And, as far as McGuinty and his tediously Tory friends are concerned, the sooner the talkin's over and the doin's done, the better. For them, of course.
"It's Ontario's problem and it should not have to be solved by Michigan," the man with the plan to turn an abandoned pit mine in Temiskaming country into a massive rubbish receptacle with a 20-million-tonne appetite told a joint House-Senate hearing in Lansing. All the traffic, all the noise should be Canada's to enjoy as the trash makes the 700-kilometre trek north from Toronto to the infamous Adams Mine.
McGuinty's tactics stateside "haven't been particularly helpful" to city efforts to manage a growing garbage crisis, the chair of council's works committee concedes. "But on the other hand, I would expect that those involved in the hearings would recognize that Adams Mine Rail Haul has a financial interest in the matter and take what was said with a grain of salt," Councillor Brad Duguid said this week.
Closer to home, the Rail Haul gang was also busy applying to provincial authorities for a permit to pump a veritable lake's-worth of water out of the 200-metre-deep South Pit so it can be replaced with the by-products of a throwaway society.
During last week's council meeting, it didn't go unnoticed when Councillor Norm Kelly stood up out of the blue to extol the virtues of the Kirkland Lake area as a landfill. He suggested that many of his colleagues once opposed to the mine would support it now just to relieve all the current uncertainty of Canada-U.S. relations.
"It's a domestic solution for a domestic problem," Kelly said this week, "and it should be done. I don't share the opinion of others who say that it poses an environmental threat." Kelly insists that "Adams Mine would be winnable a second time" if presented to council early in its next term, "when the issue won't have the political sensitivity it had the last time."
But Duguid argues, "You would be lucky now to find five members of council willing to re-open the Adams Mine debate. We've been there, we've looked at it. Adams Mine was presented to us as the best alternative available three years ago, but since that time I've had some doubts about the technology."
A big unknown in all this is what role a future provincial government will play in the Adams Mine issue. The Rail Haul consortium (formerly Rail Cycle North) had considerable influence at Queen's Park in the heyday of former premier Mike Harris. Even after Harris's departure, former environment minister Chris Stockwell continued to push the northern solution as the city's best option. "During my last meeting with Stockwell there was a lot of pressure to go to Adams Mine now," Duguid says.
But a report from the integrity commissioner has since caused Stockwell to decide he won't seek re-election when Ernie Eves finally drops the writ. And the premier's got bigger things to worry about right now than making life easier for a bunch of the Northern Ontario Tories who want to open up shop in a strong Liberal riding.
Still, Gordon McGuinty and his associates want to be ready. garbage