Opponents of a proposed landfill near Danford Lake, an hour north of Gatineau, have complained to the Quebec government that their mayor won't hold a referendum on the plan they say could include a mountain of garbage from Ottawa.
In a letter to Municipal Affairs Minister Nathalie Normandeau, Andre Carriere, president of the Coalition Against Danford Megadump, said Mayor Joseph Squitti of Alleyn and Cawood Township, is legally required to hold a referendum if enough people oppose the landfill, but he has refused to do so.
Mr. Carriere said the mayor told him it isn't necessary to determine whether there is enough opposition to trigger a referendum until there is a proposal to change the zoning.
Alleyn and Cawood, with a population of about 500, is the only municipality in the Pontiac interested in housing the controversial regional landfill. Opponents say it will probably accept garbage from Ottawa and other places in Ontario, while supporters say it will only take waste from the Outaouais.
Ken Brothers, Ottawa's director of utility services, said current contracts do not permit the transfer of the city's garbage to Quebec.
However, Michelle Borchers, vice-president of the coalition opposing the landfill, said an agreement in June between Quebec and Ontario to promote freer flow of commodities could allow Ontario garbage in. She also said waste disposal companies from Ontario and even New York often ignore the Quebec law against importing garbage.
"When you cross the bridge between Quebec and Ontario you often see garbage trucks going back and forth between the two provinces," she said.
LDC Management and Environmental Services, the company that has proposed the landfill, is owned by Cohen and Cohen of Ottawa and Denis Rouleau of Gatineau. Company spokesman Andre Guibord said it is illegal to import garbage into Quebec.
"We cannot transfer garbage to Ontario and they cannot send their garbage here," Mr. Guibord said. "Maybe the idea that this dump is for Ontario garbage comes from the fact that Cohen and Cohen is involved, but none of the garbage will come from Ontario."
Under Quebec law, Alleyn and Cawood would have to hold a referendum if 20 per cent of residents, about 100 people, oppose the landfill.
Coalition president Andre Carriere said residents are being denied their right to be consulted.
Mayor Joseph Squitti said yesterday said there is no need for a referendum until the Quebec Ministry of Environment has published the results of 22 environmental studies on the proposed landfill.
Quebec has ordered more than 50 Outaouais municipalities to stop burying or burning garbage at small dumps by 2008, and to find an engineered landfill that treats runoff and prevents gases from escaping into the air.