Ottawa

City's hands tied as committee OK's new waste facility

Councillors on the city's rural affairs committee reluctantly approved a new landfill and recycling plant in rural east Ottawa Thursday, despite demands from nearby residents that a health impact study be conducted first.

Residents demand health impact study of commercial landfill, recycling facility planned for Boundary Road

The Capital Region Resource Recovery Centre is proposed for this site on Boundary Road near Highway 417 in rural east Ottawa. (City of Ottawa)

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  • Rezoning for the facility was unanimously approved by city council on April 11.

Councillors on the city's rural affairs committee reluctantly approved a new landfill and recycling plant in rural east Ottawa Thursday, despite demands from nearby residents that a health impact study be conducted first.

The Taggart Miller facility on Boundary Road will process waste from the commercial, industrial, institutional, construction and demolition sectors. The proposed site, which would be named the Capital Region Resource Recovery Centre, would house a landfill plus composting and recycling facilities.

The project got the nod from the province last year, and while the city can't overturn that decision, councillors still must approve the zoning.

Residents told the committee they aren't necessarily trying to shut the project down, but want to know how their health will be protected.

"We're demanding a human health impact study," said Harry Baker, president of the Citizens' Environmental Stewardship Association, a group formed to fight the landfill proposal.

He fears the waste will leach into the groundwater, affecting nearby wells and local farms, and creating air pollution. The potential effects of the landfill will last forever, he said.

Other residents pointed out the site is relatively close to farmland, schools and several communities.

Councillors' hands tied

The province doesn't require a health assessment, and instead abides by its own criteria to measure potential impact.
Ottawa's agriculture and rural affairs committee approved the rezoning application for a new landfill and commercial recycling facility on April 5. (Laura Osman/ CBC)

The project already meets those standards, and the study residents are asking for would be "duplicative" of studies that have already been completed, Michelle Taggart, planning director for Taggart Investments, told the committee.

City council doesn't have the authority to ask for such a study anyway. Even if council decided to foot the bill for one, councillors wouldn't be able to use it as a justification to shut the project down.

It could take hundreds of thousand of taxpayer dollars to fight the development, and the city would likely lose that fight, said Coun. Stephen Blais, who represents the area.

Taggart Miller plans to monitor the site for any contamination. If any problems are detected, the company said it will ask the provincial government for permission to monitor further afield to make sure neighbouring communities aren't impacted. 

Bid to regulate commercial waste

When he first heard about the possibility of a commercial landfill on Boundary Road, Blais said he felt as though he'd been punched in the gut.

"We have been trying to make the best of what is obviously a bad situation," Blais said.

Several rural councillors expressed their regrets to people who live near the Boundary Road site.

"I feel for you," said Coun. Eli El-Chanity, whose had his own headaches over the Carp Road landfill in his ward. "Nobody wants to see a landfill in their backyard"

The committee did pass a motion, tabled by Blais, asking the province for the authority to take over regulation of the waste streams handled at the proposed facility.

While it's the province's job to regulate commercial waste sites, it's the city that has to deal with the nuisance, he said.

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