Why a full environmental assessment review for the Carp Road landfill is needed

(Editor’s Note: It may seem that all issues with the Carp Road landfill have been quiet, but West Carleton resident Harold Moore tells us that … ‘As the provincial election is fast approaching this should be a key election issue for the voters of Stittsville’. Harold has been a formidable voice in the fight against the landfill expansion and his voice continues to raise concerns.)

The province approved the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the landfill back in 2013. Since that time many things have changed and the data and assumptions used to support the EA may not be valid anymore. That is why before any construction at the site begins the provincial government should require a full review of all EA supporting materials to see if changes should be made. 

In 2006, Waste Management of Canada started the environmental assessment (EA) process for a new West Carleton Evironmental Centre (WCEC) landfill at their facility on Carp Road. Data collection required for the EA was started in 2006 and continued until final reports were prepared in 2012. The final EA was approved in August 2013.

In 2016, the Auditor General of Ontario recommended that “the Ministry should conduct post-EA monitoring to ascertain the actual impacts of all projects being assessed”. Part of such monitoring should be to determine if work is unnecessarily delayed, and whether supporting data and assumptions for the EA are still valid due to changes with time.

This type of EA review was a condition of the 2017 EA approval for a new landfill in east Ottawa. “15.1 – If within 5 years of approval the proponent has not commenced construction of the undertaking, the proponent shall undertake a review of the EA. The proponent shall review whether the effects analysis, anticipated net effects, and associated mitigation measures set out in the EA remain accurate for the undertaking and identify any changes”.

The long timeline for preparation of the WCEC/EA (2006-2012) and over nine years with no construction activity since EA approval, the Minister of Environment Conservation and Parks should request the proponent to undertake a review of the EA as per comments by the Auditor General and recent EA approval conditions.

Some supporting conditions for a review:

  • NEED – The rationale given for the new landfill was ” to provide additional waste disposal capacity for solid non-hazardous waste in the form of a new landfill footprint, which will enable WM to continue commercial operations and support its business following the closure of the Ottawa WMF in September 2011″. They said to “Do Nothing” would not satisfy the economic goals of WM in Ottawa and Eastern Ontario. The old landfill has been closed for over 9 years and yet WM still operates in Ottawa. So maybe the EA should be reviewed to see if the new landfill is really needed or is “Do Nothing” the better option.
  • DEVELOPMENT PRESSURE – Population in the surrounding community has increased by over 40% (over 35,000 more people) since the EA process started in 2006. Development around the landfill site continues to explode with major development planned for the future. The city urban development boundary is now less than a kilometer from the landfill property. An EA review is required to account for significant changes since approval to assess potential negative impacts of the undertaking.
  • NEW LOCAL CAPACITY – The proposed undertaking is primarily for Industrial Commercial and Institutional (ICI) and Construction and Demolition (CD) waste as the city of Ottawa residential waste all goes to the city owned Trail road landfill. Since the WCEC / EA approval (2013) Tomlinson Environmental Services opened (2014-15) a modern CD waste recovery facility on Carp Road with a permitted capacity of 300,000 tonnes per year. As well Taggart-Miller Environmental Services received approval in 2017 for an ICI waste recovery and disposal (10.7 million cubic meters) facility in east Ottawa. Based on these new waste handling facilities, estimates for landfill capacity at the proposed WCEC landfill are outdated and must be reviewed and updated.
  • REGULATIONS – In 2016 the provincial government introduced new and stringent regulations “Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario: Building the Circular Economy” and the “Waste Free Ontario Act” designed to increase waste diversion and limit waste disposal with a goal of zero waste disposal. This new regulation will impact the need for new landfill capacity, thus the disposal assumptions used in the 2012 WCEC / EA must be reviewed and changed in the context of the new legislation.
  • ALTERNATIVES – In the EA, Waste Management looked at a number of alternatives to building a new landfill. One was to build a Waste To Energy facility which would dispose of residual material from the waste recovery process, recover all metallic waste and provide renewable local energy. At the time the main drawback to this alternative was a potential contract with Plasco Energy to handle city residual waste through plasma gasification. In 2015 the Plasco deal was canceled leaving the city looking for new solutions. Based on this, the Alternatives to a new landfill presented in the EA should be reviewed to see if a Waste to Energy solution is now better suited for the city than landfill disposal.
  • CLIMATE CHANGE – With a provincially approved service area of the whole province, and a city approved service area of nearly 100,000 Square kilometers from Sudbury to Durham to the Quebec border in Eastern Ontario; the transport of garbage by truck over such long distance will have significant Greenhouse Gas emissions. With rapid present and future urban growth moving closer and closer to the landfill site; major changes in provincial regulations encouraging waste diversion and less landfill disposal; new significant local ICI waste processing facilities; potential alternative disposal technologies and a local president for landfill EA review when there is significant delay in construction start after EA approval, the Minister for Environment Conservation and Parks should request a full review of 2012-13 EA for the West Carleton Environmental Centre landfill.

With rapid present and future urban growth moving closer and closer to the landfill site; major changes in provincial regulations encouraging waste diversion and less landfill disposal; new significant local ICI waste processing facilities; potential alternative disposal technologies and a local president for landfill EA review when there is significant delay in construction start after EA approval, the Minister for Environment Conservation and Parks should request a full review of 2012-13 EA for the West Carleton Environmental Centre landfill.

Over 15 years ago Waste Management of Canada Corporation started a process to more than double the size of the landfill on Carp Road. During a flawed Environmental Assessment (EA), the City and local community argued that the rapidly growing west end communities of Stittsville, Kanata and West Carleton were no place for a new landfill that could be operational for decades and impact the environment for centuries. Opening such a large new landfill will serve as an economic disincentive to diversion and recycling programs and alternative more environmentally preferable disposal methods.

The landfill is not necessary for local needs. Much of the waste will come from an approved service area of 94,000 sq. km. stretching from Durham, to Sudbury, to the Quebec boarder and is not compatible with the growing community around it.

The Liberal government of the day disregarded the concerns of the community and approved the Environmental Assessment in 2013. In the intervening 9 years, growth and development have exploded in the west end of Ottawa and any new landfill will most certainly be in significant conflict with future development in the surrounding community.

When construction is delayed for a lengthy period of time after approval (5 years), recent Environmental Approvals have required that before proceeding with construction, the proponent to review whether the data, assumptions, anticipated net effects, and the associated mitigation measures set out in the EA remain accurate. Such a condition was applied to the recently approved EA for the Capital Region Resource Recovery Centre landfill in the east end of Ottawa.

After June 2nd, a new government will take office. Whatever party forms the new government there should be a commitment to a review of the Environmental Assessment and a reconsideration of the data and assumptions used to justify the Carp Road landfill expansion. So, ask candidates for their position on the potential impacts of the future expansion of the Carp Road landfill and if they support a review of the outdated Environmental Assessment before any construction at the landfill site is given a go-ahead.


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