Residents of Montreal's St. Michel district are lining up to fight a proposed municipal compost treatment centre – one of four green-waste facilities the city wants to build on the island.
The city spent months scouring the island of Montreal for suitable sites and settled on locations in the cities of Dorval and Montreal East and the boroughs of Lasalle and Villeray–Saint–Michel–Parc Extension.
"This is certainly a great idea, but not in St. Michel," said local resident Denis Sirois. "Sometimes the city considers this neighbourhood a dumping place."
Sirois' attitude – and the "not in my backyard" reaction coming from many residents in the northeast Montreal district – come from decades of experience. For more than 30 years, the site of St. Michel's old Miron quarry was a garbage dump, complete with nauseating odours and the noise of garbage truck after garbage truck rumbling through the district.
Today, the site has largely been reclaimed as green space, along with a state-of-the-art recycling facility and an eco-centre where residents can drop off hazardous household waste and used construction materials.
For the city, the great swath of land right next to the Metropolitan expressway is the ideal site for a large industrial compost processing plant to serve the northern part of Montreal island.
But if the plan gets the green light, another 70 waste vehicles a day could soon be rolling through the neighbourhood.
"This is going to have a negative impact on our health, on our air quality and on the noise near our homes, " said Claude Doyon, the coordinator of community development and public health for the CLSC de Saint-Michel – the district's health and social service agency.
"The objective is to have the sites close to the communities that are served – (to) reduce green house gas emissions, reduce transit and trucking," said Montreal executive-committee vice-chairman Alan DeSousa, who is in charge of sustainable development for the city.
"It's way too early to jump to any conclusions about the site," DeSousa added, suggesting residents wait for the final report on the results of public hearings conducted in late 2011 by l'Office de consultation publique de Montréal.
That report is due out by May. Construction on the four composting treatment centres is to begin by 2013.