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Garbage: Being NIMBY is ethical and visionary
By By: Katharine Fletcher, THE EQUITY, 22-March-2006


ENVIRONMENTAL FORUM
Garbage: Being NIMBY is ethical and visionary

When it comes to thinking of mega-landfills. I believe that being a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) advocate is ethical and forward-thinking.

Economies of scale

Our western capitalist society is built on an economic engine which encourages volume discounts. In our un-just society, more is less: the economies of scale dictate if something is economically viable.

This is why LDC and Cohen and Cohen propose to build a mega-landfill in Danford Lake. Our society's economic models dictate that a landfill can only be cost-effective if it takes in tons and tons of regional waste.

Danford Lake

If you are one of the 570 or so taxpayers in Danford Lake, I bet you're not very keen on that logic.

That's exactly how I felt when the same developers talked to North Onslow residents. In 2003 LDC promoter Denis Rouleau spoke with Municipality of Pontiac residents about the economic benefits we would realize when our in-trench dump was transformed to an engineered landfill. To ensure the economic viability of their investment, we would have to realize that garbage would need to be accepted from areas such as Gatineau, MRC Pontiac and other municipalities in MRC des Collines. At least.

Being NIMBY is smart

Why would anyone in their right mind want to take all sorts of garbage from a vast region, and transform their rural community into a garbage route and receptacle? It is only reasonable that small communities want to deal with their own waste and their own waste alone. That's why Tom Orr's Shawville based proposal for dealing with the community's septic waste should be considered seriously. Over 50 Shawville and area residents turned out last Wednesday to listen to his business proposal. I want to know more, but like the 10 or so folks I interviewed after the session, all are interested in hearing more about this home-grown, home-based potential solution to our human waste.

If we can land a man on the moon, surely we have the creativity, intellect, drive and technology to devise a method for communities to look after their own garbage. Why do we continually have to "think big" about this extremely human issue?

I salute any residents of

Danford Lake who stand up and say a polite, firm 'No' to accepting this mega-landfill.

Seduction: a fistful of dollars

The coloured tabloid insert delivered in THE EQUITY two weeks ago, The Facts, is a tool published by the developers.

In it, they assert that the municipality will gain "direct economic benefits estimated [my underscore] at $60 million for the local area."

The dollars are designed to be seductive and persuasive - and it sure had this effect when LDC's Denis Rouleau chatted with MoP's former mayor, Bruce Campbell. Money talks -always has, always will.

On the other hand, even a community can become a collective prostitute and accept an uncertain future based on garbage - all for a fistful of dollars.

Proposed site: Habitat loss

The promoters have found appropriate land 19 km from Kazabazua, 1.5 km south of the provincial Hwy. 301 - lands that are owned by the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources. The forested habitat has been logged, and the implication is that it is now a "waste land" with no economic value. This provincially owned "useless land" is also described as being one kilometre from the nearest residence, which the developers describe as being "a cottage with no electricity."

Let's look at this more closely. This already-logged land is a home for wildlife. It is part and parcel of our Outaouais region's diminishing natural landscape that supposedly we cherish. What is logged land "good for?" It is habitat for wildlife. It is appreciated by hunters, fishers, snowmobilers, cottagers, canoeists, crosscountry skiers. It is not value-less, nor ought it to be considered part of a provincial land bank simply awaiting economic development.

Where has the wildlife gone?

People ask me where the songbirds have gone. Why are the bobolinks disappearing from the Steele Line? Why don't the whip-poor-wills call in the forests north of Shawville any more? Where are the wolves? We are losing our wildlife and its loss is perceptible because of habitat loss. We clear that woodlot, plough a field, put in drainage tiles, plant corn, pasture cattle, and we wonder where the birdies are?

We clear a logged area, build roads so developers can take the trucks transporting garbage, manage the landfill area,  and wonder where the mammals have gone?                             

We are destroying natural resources: we are irrevocably altering habitat, and the vast spaces animals need for migration, reproduction, and life itself.  

It's a lot easier for us to send money to the World Wildlife Fund to "Save the Rainforest" in Brazil rather than taking action and saying ''Nothank-you" to landfill developers.

The three Rs are alive and well in our mind's eye - perhaps. But we urgently need , to get these concepts out of our thoughts and into our daily routines.

Small is beautiful

Why can't Alleyn and Cawood look after their own garbage? Why can't Gatineau, Shawville, North Onslow, and all the other communities, big or small do the same thing? It is more than time for us all to look after our own garbage more effectively on the home front - and as businesses, industries and communities.

Residents of North Onslow attended many meetings about transforming their in-trench dump to an  LDC-operated landfill. The majority of us did not want our community to become the site of a regional landfill. However, we realize we have a potential problem with our in-trench dump. We said we wanted to do our own bit, tidy up our own back yard, and transform our own community's dump into a workable landfill and recycling depot. We were told this isn't economically feasible.

NIMBYism

Small communities such as North Onslow have been doing their bit to be repositories of their own plus cottagers and others' garbage for years. Why can't we have government assistance to tidy up the dump and continue, in a more responsible way, to look after our own waste?

Being NIMBY is absolutely okay, if not smart. We need government help so communities can be increasingly responsible -and this goes for the cities, too. No way should any rural community take urban waste. Cities must figure it out for themselves and not destroy Alleyn and Cawood.

How arrogant. How unethical. How out of step with time.

NIMBY folks? You rock! Katharine Fletcher composts and does her best to recycle and reuse. She still can do more. Contact her at ches-ley@allstream.net with your thoughts about garbage.

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