Hamilton throws support behind Ingersoll's fight not to take Toronto's trash

One year after winning its own battle against a waste disposal plant, Hamilton is throwing its weight behind a small Ontario town in a similar situation — Ingersoll.
Ingersoll is trying to keep a private company from building a landfill near its borders for Toronto trash, and Hamilton is backing that effort. This trash pile is from the 200-person village of Mayo, Yukon, where more than half of the waste comes from outside of the area. (Alexandra Byers/CBC)

One year after winning its own battle against a waste disposal plant, Hamilton is throwing its support behind a small Ontario town in a similar situation — Ingersoll.

City councillors voted Tuesday to back the town of 12,000 located east of London in its quest to keep a landfill for Toronto garbage out of its watershed.

Ingersoll's fight has shades of Hamilton's battle with Port Fuels and Materials Services Inc., said Chad Collins, Ward 5 councillor. That company wanted to burn industrial waste on the Lake Ontario shore.

So when Mayor Ted Comiskey of Ingersoll made the pitch Tuesday, city council's planning committee empathized.

"Every municipality should have choice in local decision making," said Matthew Green, Ward 3 councillor, who moved that Hamilton support Ingersoll.

Currently, gasification plants and landfills come with similar problems — the actual municipalities don't have much of a say where they are located.

Coun. Matthew Green, one of the most vocal opponents of the Port Fuels project, moved the motion to stand with Ingersoll too. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

In the Port Fuels case, the private company planned to use Hamilton Port Authority waterfront land. And it was up to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to approve the project or not.

The city did what it could to fight the project, hiring its own consultant and asking the province to demand a full environmental assessment. In the end, the province did that, and the project died.

The case in Ingersoll hasn't gotten that far — yet.

A private disposal company is still planning a landfill that would see residential, commercial and industrial waste hauled to Oxford County. The site is near the Thames River, Comiskey said, and about 800 metres from Ingersoll's border.

"I do not want your garbage," Comiskey said told a Toronto council committee in 2016.

"You are barking up the wrong tree," a Toronto councillor told him then. "It's a provincial responsibility."

Ingersoll fears the landfill proposal will harm the town's drinking water and cause other environmental hazards. And besides, Comiskey said, the town should have a say where it goes.

"At this time," he said, "we do not have that right."

Oxford PC MPP Ernie Hardeman tabled legislation at Queen's Park that would give municipalities the right to approve or refuse landfills. But it's died in light of the June 7 election.

Hamilton is the 54th municipality to support Ingersoll, Comiskey said. He believes Hamilton's support in particular will make a difference because it's so close to the GTA.

"We are not burying tin cans and bottles like we used to on the farm, in the back 40 in a crevice we can't cultivate," he told councillors.

Landfills now contain plastics and toxic chemicals "that make a leachate soup."

About the Author

Samantha Craggs

Reporter

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca

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