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Notre Development official lashes out at environment minister.

Notre Development official lashes out at environment minister

Gordon McGuinty, president of North Bay-based Notre Development Corporation, has accused the provincial government of looking at Northern and southern Ontario with two sets of standards.

McGuinty made the accusation in response to an announcement made by Environment Minister Ruth Grier last month that southern municipalities - specifically the regions of the Greater Metropolitan Toronto area - will not be permitted to transport solid waste beyond the area in which it is generated.

The minister said these regions must create new landfill sites since current sites are nearly full.

However, while the minister blocked Toronto's bid to ship waste north she granted Ottawa permission to truck its solid waste to Kingston.

While agreeing with Grier's philosophy that municipalities should be forced to handle their own waste, McGuinty said the goal is impossible to achieve.

"What if York Region (north of Toronto) can't find an environmentally acceptable location for a landfill site? Is she (Grier) going to say that they still have to go ahead?" he asked rhetorically.

He added that there is a potential for the minister to contravene the environmental assessment (EA) procedures if she needs to expand one of the existing sites.

At the time of his interview with Northern Ontario Business, McGuinty had just returned from a seminar on waste management in Washington D.C. Because of what he learned there, McGuinty said that Grier's announcement runs counter to the continental trend.

"I didn't find one metropolitan area in North America that is planning to create a new landfill site within its own boundaries," he said. "Even North Bay is looking outside its boundaries for a landfill site."

McGuinty added that the double standard will probably result in northern communities being unable to take advantage of the new recycling-related industries.

"Northern Ontario does not create enough material to support a recycling industry. In other words, they (the government) are not going to allow us to use waste as a resource," he said.

McGuinty claimed Martel's lack of support for the Kirkland Lake plan runs counter to the mandate of her ministry.

"If the northern members had any vision, they would see this as a diversification tool for the north," he said. "Only large-scale recycling is viable, and this proposal would not have cost the province a dime.

"When we developed this proposal, we expected it to go through a full environmental assessment. Nobody expected them to just hand this to us."

For the better part of two years McGuinty has worked with Kirkland Lake and Toronto-area officials on a plan to ship 1.5-million tons of solid waste annually via the Ontario Northland Railway (ONR) to the Adam's Mine, which he purchased from Dofasco Ltd.

McGuinty estimates that the plan, which includes the establishment of a secondary recycling industry at the site, would create more than 110 permanent jobs.

The plan also calls for Metropolitan Toronto to purchase the land for $25 million, to pay between $1.10 and $1.85 per metric ton to dispose of the waste and to contribute funds for local research and development programs in Kirkland Lake.

McGuinty claimed that the proposal would have kept the ONR financially viable and allowed the agency to maintain its rail infrastructure until other industries which utilize the rail lines come on stream in the north.

Don Caveen, director of development for the Kirkland Lake Economic Development Corporation, said area officials will not give up on the plan and the economic benefits it promises.

Potential investors for the recycling portion of the proposal are still interested in the plan, noted Caveen.

"We have an opportunity to start an entirely new industry here. Five or six companies which utilize foreign technology are still interested in setting up shop in Kirkland Lake," he said.

Both McGuinty and Caveen say they are more than a little annoyed with the attitude displayed by Grier, Northern Development Minister Shelly Martel and the balance of the NDP's northern caucus.

"The NDP made a political decision that they think is going to play well. But this is going to be a major crisis for the government during their term," predicted McGuinty.

"When you have the results of an $800,000 hydrological study it's difficult to say why they won't at least look at the plan as an option," he said.

Despite the announcement and the caucus' lack of interest, the proposal to bring a portion of Metro Toronto's solid waste to the Adam's Mine site near Kirkland Lake is far from finished.

McGuinty declared that the announcement has not killed the proposal.

"In no way is the deal dead," he said. "This is just going to give us momentum."

Meanwhile, Kirkland Lake officials believe that Grier's decision will not stand up.

"We're confident that Ruth Grier's decision will eventually be reversed," said Caveen. "There were not alternative solutions presented by the minister, and the decision was not based on facts. It was more along the lines of what the (New Democrat Party) party has always said."
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Title Annotation:Notre Development Corporation president Gordon McGuinty; environment minister Ruth Grier
Author:Krejlgaard, Chris
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:May 1, 1991
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