Stoney Creek private landfill approved for major expansion

A private landfill in Stoney Creek, originally known as Taro East, has been approved for a major expansion that will extend its life by at least 10 years.

Its maximum peak height has increased by 2.5 metres

The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks has approved an expansion for a private landfill in Stoney Creek. Its capacity was upped by 3,680,000 cubic metres. (Google Maps)

A private landfill of commercial and industrial waste in Stoney Creek has been approved to increase its capacity by more than 50 per cent.   

The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks approved the expansion of the Stoney Creek Regional Facility, allowing its capacity of "non-hazardous industrial material" to increase by 3,680,000 cubic metres. 

This means its limit of 6,500,000 cubic metres of waste will grow to 10,180,000 cubic metres.

The amount of waste the site can accept each year as not changed. But the new number means the landfill will be open for longer and the garbage will get piled higher.

A ministry spokesperson told CBC Hamilton that the landfill was close to the original limit — so close, in fact, that it was anticipated to reach capacity "later this year." 

But now, with the expansion, the landfill will operate for another 10 to 15 years before it hits capacity. 

Originally known as the Taro East Landfill, the facility opened in 1996 and changed hands before becoming a Terrapure Environmental location. 

The landfill receives non-hazardous waste from commercial and industrial companies, which includes material coming from steelwork operations and construction projects. 

It does not accept municipal garbage, which goes to the city's Glanbrook landfill.

The landfill's website says they are permitted to receive up to 250 trucks per day, but normally only receive 70-80 trucks. Terrapure Environmental says traffic will not increase. (Stoney Creek Regional Facility/Youtube)

But the huge increase in material means the landfill will get taller. The maximum peak height for the fill has increased by 2.5 metres.

In a ministry review, Terrapure said that screening measures like fencing or green walls will be put in place to help the visual effects. It is unclear how tall this mound would be if it reached that peak. 

Environment Hamilton opposes approval

Lynda Lukasik, executive director at Environment Hamilton, said that the organization had been fighting the expansion since it was proposed. 

She said Environment Hamilton is concerned with the massive increase in capacity and various changes, including the elimination of a "buffer" of soil that previously lined Green Mountain Road West and kept the waste at more of a distance from the road.

Before the ministry's approval, that stretch of land was reserved for industrial fill, but now, the whole area will be for "residual material." 

And while the landfill itself has protective measures in place — like a three-metre thick liner, leachate and groundwater collection systems — some environmental protections, like dust and noise mitigation, are up to Terrapure. 

Lukasik said that companies have failed to hold up their end in the past, which worries her. 

"A lot of it is stuff that is really dependent on best management practices," she said. "And if we've learned anything...you're really at the mercy of the operator. So you have to hope that they're going to do the right thing by the community."

Lukasik said that people moving into new homes, which have been built near the Stoney Creek Regional Facility, might not know about the expansion. (Stoney Creek Regional Facility/Youtube)

She added that homes had been built in the area around the landfill on the assumption that it would start to close once the original capacity was reached. With a larger capacity, that date will be pushed farther into the future. 

Lukasik said that since a lot of the residential area around the landfill is new, she is unsure whether people would know about the dump or its plans to get bigger. 

In its last letter to the project officer in August, Environment Hamilton raised the following concerns: 

  • Whether the landfill will increase out-of-Ontario waste acceptance.

  • The height of the landfill.

  • The effects of extreme weather.

  • Air quality for surrounding residential neighbourhoods.

  • The lack of assessment for options to divert waste from the landfill.

CBC Hamilton reached out to Terrapure Stoney Creek for comment, but did not receive an immediate response.

In the approval letter signed by Minister Jeff Yurek, he confirmed that the "proponent has complied with the requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act" and that the "advantages of this undertaking outweigh its disadvantages."

City councillors officially opposed 

In a February presentation to the City of Hamilton's planning committee, Vice President at Terrapure Environmental Michael Jovanovic noted project benefits as "minor adverse environment (sic) and a positive economic benefit to the community."

Hamilton city councillors voted in favour of making their opposition to the expansion official. Coun. Jason Farr opposed the motion, while Coun. Brad Clark, who represents the ward where the landfill is located, declared a conflict of interest, as he previously did work for Terrapure. 

The landfill's website says they are permitted to receive up to 250 trucks per day, but normally only receive 70-80 trucks. The facility accepts 750,000 tonnes of material annually.