Canada's largest landfill closes

Toronto to ship a million tons of trash to U.S. next year

On Tuesday evening, people who live in a small community north of Toronto will hold a celebration that has less to do with ringing in a new year, than watching an old blot on the landscape close its gates, hopefully forever.

The Keele Valley Landfill, at 240 acres the largest dump in Canada, stops taking new garbage at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Toronto has been tossing its trash into the 75-metre-deep pit for 20 years.

Aurelia Bertocchi plans to share a toast with her neighbours near the dump's gates as the last truck rolls out.

Area residents have fought to close the landfill for years, and Bertocchi says she's still only 99 per cent sure the closure is real.

"There is the governor of Michigan who is still trying to shut down the border, so that trucks don't bring garbage over to the U.S." she said.

The closure leaves the municipalities of Toronto, Peel, York and Durham with no place nearby to put their garbage, so they'll be trucking most of it to Michigan.

Toronto alone will put 1.1 million tons of garbage on trucks and send it across the border next year.

Toronto Councillor Betty Disero says the province would be in a real jam if Michigan shuts its border to Canadian trash.

"I guess Keele Valley may be reopened," she said. "It's not an intention of anybody to do that, (but) there would have to be some sort of landfill."

Disero says it's an embarrassment that southern Ontario can't deal with its own garbage within in its own back yard.

She sits on a provincial panel on waste that's expected to deliver recommendations next month.

Toronto has committed itself to diverting all its garbage from landfill by recycling and composting. The city hopes to achieve that by the year 2010.