A couple of stories this week have pegged Clarington as the likely place for the proposed waste-to-energy incinerator. The Toronto Star article "Waste not, want not, for new power" (March 24) states that 4 of the 5 sites on the "short list" for the incinerator are in Clarington. Big surprise. You should also read the Metroland story, "Clarington takes four spots in energy-from-waste site short list" (March 23).
It is no secret that York Region would prefer to have this incinerator in Durham Region. Durham Regional Council would prefer to have it out of the way in Clarington, and funny thing, that's where the sites on the short list are located. Two in Courtice, and two in Bowmanville. We'll take bets on where it eventually ends up. Odds are it will be Courtice, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which the fact that our Council will be easily convinced by Durham Region that the plant should be located within Clarington, to begin with, and the fact that the water pollution control plant is located there and there is room, plus it is a bit closer to the other municipalities to the west for them to dump their garbage there. Still, the Bennett Road area in south Bowmanville is an attractive site for the incinerator too.
We're not worried about it though, since Chairman Anderson has declared that, "the smoke that comes out of the top is as clean as possible". So, as clean as possible? What does that mean? Sure it's cleaner than the old incinerators, but then again, we have no idea yet which technology will be used. Will it be the very latest and best, most efficient? Or will it be the most financially attractive type? Chair Anderson also says it will be "attractive and an addition to any area". Then why push it out to Clarington, when we're sure Pickering/Ajax, Whitby and Oshawa are all clamouring to host it themselves. Lucky Clarington.
From the Toronto Star, "I'm surprised that Clarington has been isolated as the only location in Durham," Clarington Mayor Jim Abernethy said yesterday. (March 23)
Why would he be surprised? No one else who lives in Clarington is.
Though he is on the record as favouring incineration, he said there will need to be "extensive public consultations" in the next while. "We have to really understand what is involved with being a host community," he said. "No one really wants this in their backyard."
Public consultations? Like those that have taken place regarding the funding request for Bowmanville Hospital? Public consultations like those refused by Council on the issue of direct election of Durham Region Chair? They will make up their own minds, regardless of what the public has to say about it - we already know that.
A public meeting is set for April 12 at the Beech Centre in Bowmanville. Why not at Garnet Rickard and Courtice Community Centre where previous public information centres were held? Why have one in Bowmanville (two sites on the short list) but not one in Courtice where there are also 2 sites on the short list? And will anybody really listen anyway?
Regional councillor Charlie Trim, who also backs incineration, expressed similar surprise. "I just thought there would be three sites in each region," said Trim. "We haven't seen the detail. The detail is what is important."
No, what is important is the rhetoric put forth by our powerful Regional Chair, and those regional councillors who want the incinerator, but not in their backyard. They will fairly easily convince our 3 regional representatives (Abernethy, Trim and Novak) that hosting it will be oh so beneficial for Clarington. They will be convinced of how desirable it will be to build it in our municipality, whether at Courtice Road or Bennett Road. Our regional councillors will fall for it hook, line and sinker. Just like they fell for the arguments made by the region to keep the status quo on election of the chair.
And who will host the ash (waste from the incinerator)? Clarington again, or will one of the other municipalities step up and take on that responsibility? I know, silly question.
The report detailing the sites is supposed to be released to the public Monday morning (March 26) at www.durhamyorkwaste.ca. It's not there yet, but there are other bits of information available at that site.
So, are we confident that what is best for Clarington will be done? No, we are not. Not when we have a council that is not accountable to the public (so far) and has shown itself, in its very short time in office to date, to be unwilling to seriously listen to both pros and cons of any issue. They will listen to those who say what our Council wants to hear. They will find a way to ignore what they don't want to hear. They are a huge disappointment so far (the majority of council, save just a couple). They are being manipulated by our region and don't even realize it. By the time they wake up and listen to the residents of Clarington, we hope it will not be too late.
All we are asking is that this council wake up and take notice of what its residents have to say for a change. By all means, get all the information, all the facts. But do not be swayed by those with an agenda that may benefit themselves but not be best for Clarington. Do we want this incinerator in Clarington? Do we even have enough information to make an informed decision? We hope that this time our councillors will do some real fact finding instead of being convinced by those who do not have the best interests of Clarington at heart. We remain hopeful, but not confident at this point.