A number of people have asked me this summer about the status of the Carp Road landfill expansion, or as Waste Management (WM) would prefer us to call it, the West Carleton Environmental Centre (WCEC).
The only development is that last month, Waste Management asked the Ontario Ministry of the Environment for permission to import construction and demolition waste (known as “C&D”) from Gatineau to the current Carp Road facility. You can read the application here…
The idea is to take the waste material and recover any recyclable materials before shipping the rest to a landfill. Ross Wallace, a spokesperson for Waste Management, tells me that they want to be on a level playing field with other waste and recycling businesses that are allowed to take C&D waste from Western Quebec.
This brings to mind two concerns:
1) Truck traffic. Every load of garbage coming from Gatineau to Carp Road will be crossing bridges over the Ottawa River and using downtown streets. The timing of this proposal is ironic given that City Councillors are currently reviewing a $2-billion tunnel plan to reduce the number of trucks that cut through the core and choke up King Edward Avenue.
2) Waste transfer and jurisdictions. When WM first applied to expand the current landfill, it committed to serve Ottawa and close western neighbours like Lanark County. Opening the door – even slightly – to garbage from Quebec is worrisome. It contradicts the business model proposed by WM in the approved Environmental Assessment and Environmental Compliance Approval, where only Ontario waste was considered.
Environmentalists and waste industry watchers have been saying for a while now that increasing capacity at Ontario landfills (like the one on Carp Road) would lead to importing waste from farther and farther away. Do we really want our City to be the destination for garbage from other provinces or even the United States?
As Lando said in the Empire Strikes Back, “This deal is getting worse all the time!” The expanded landfill is going to look way different from what WM first described when they started the approval process: we’re hearing there’s no recreational land until the landfill is closed, recycling capability will be drastically reduced, and now they’re asking to expand the collection boundaries.
Residents can comment on WM’s application until October 3, either online or by mail. Here’s how to get in touch.
The next update to watch for is what’s happening with the Host Municipal Responsibility Agreement (HMRA). That’s the legal agreement between WM and the City that sets terms and conditions for the landfill’s operation. The company has been negotiating with the City’s lawyers, and at some point the agreement will need council approval. It’s not clear how (or even if) the public will be able to give any input.