Wednesday, July 17, 2024
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor – April 10, 2024

JT’s travellin’ road show

Dear Editor,
While a number of Pontiac MRC councils have (to their credit) already turned their backs on the incinerator proposal, the majority, as of Apr. 4, still cling to the idea.
Last week's ‘information’ meeting in Shawville on Wednesday night only added to the bizarro atmosphere surrounding the entire scheme. In spite of virtually all of the capacity crowd indicating that they do not support the idea of incineration in the Pontiac, the warden, Mayor Spence, and Shawville mayor McCleary refuse to lose. When combined with a less-than-stellar reception at the Allumette Island and Fort Coulonge meetings, you’d think they would be starting to get the idea that the people of the Pontiac don’t want this.
All it would take would be a simple vote at each of the remaining councils either to reaffirm or withdraw their support of the proposal to end the madness, but both Mr. Spence and Mr. McCleary are unwilling to ask the question of their councils. Mr. Spence, an affable fellow put into in a career-ending position by the warden, maintains he has not even decided for himself yet, and is merely presenting information to a public that is hungry to know about the incineration option. The warden, now a one-trick-pony, appears to remain steadfast that the incinerator is a must-have. To sweeten the pot, she now indicates that Highway 148 could be rebuilt, if only we elect to run dozens of tractor trailer loads of garbage on it, enroute to Portage on a daily basis. Plus, she is quite hopeful that the trucks will be all-electric, so residents can sleep well at night, free from pollution and the sound of jake-brakes and gears shifting.
In spite of the tidal wave of non-support for her pet project, the warden doesn’t seem to be considering feedback received during the present series of five information meetings as anything more than venting from some people. We were informed in Shawville that our input will be seriously considered when we reach the public consultation (required) phase of the project, at a point somewhere in the future.
In the meantime, we sit and wait to see what the next move of JT’s Travellin’ Road Show will be.
While we wait, let’s not forget that attending your local council meeting and questioning your elected representatives is the best way to get them to see things your way. All it takes is one vote at their next council meeting to end this bizarro circus, and then they can get back to concentrating on serving the people who elected them.

Gerry Bimm, Otter Lake

A “respectful” presentation?

Dear Editor,
To the warden and mayors at MRC Pontiac’s Shawville “presentation” on the incinerator project: What was that?
That was the single most insulting/awkward presentation I have endured since secondary 1 sex education.
There we were, a room full of people seeking facts and transparency about a project where factual, objective and transparent information is lacking, and what do you ask us to do? You ask us to be “respectful”. Tell me please, what does respectful look and feel like to you? Could it be the high school version of respect? AKA the sit down and shut it version because you will stand by your obligation of due diligence. Sadly, due diligence is not to have us watch three youtube videos, each complete with technical difficulties?
Ehem, when exactly did you plan to present the solid business case? We came to hear the business case.
If you are afraid to make it available, without feeling that you need to direct our thoughts, there must be something 1) wrong with the document, or 2) wrong with the electorate. Which is it Warden Toller and colleagues?
Post the report/business case on the MRC page and let us see for ourselves. This is a big decision. We need to make it together.

Andrea Goffart, Beechgrove, QC
(in the neighbouring Municipality of Pontiac that will also be affected by your decision)

Thoughts about the WTE project

Dear Editor,
I am a Norway Bay cottage owner and a York Region resident. I have followed the discussion/debate within THE EQUITY about the proposed waste to energy incinerator project for some time. Initially, I thought that the project proposed by Warden Jane Toller had merit. However, the research I have been doing for a teaching resource I am writing for the elementary Ontario Science and Technology curriculum changed my mind. As I researched a STEM project about the effects of manufacturing and disposal of everyday products on us, our communities, society at large and the environment, my thinking changed completely.
I checked out the Durham/York WTE project that Ms. Toller references. I live in Markham, part of York Region, close to the York/Durham border. I did not know this facility existed until I read about it in Ms. Toller’s reports.

My sister, who lives in Pickering (Durham), knows about it; she is familiar with the concerns expressed by many people in Pickering and the start-up problems of getting the ‘scrubbers’ to work.
One of the references I have used in my writing research is Dr. Myra Hird, a professor at the School of Environmental Studies at Queen’s University. Please check her website https://www.myrahird.com/
She is quoted often in this article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/ottawa-s-450m-question-to-burn-our-trash-or-not-to-burn-our-trash-1.7141227 (dated March 13, 2024).
I realize that because I receive THE EQUITY by mail, I am probably out of date with the back-and-forth of the WTE project, but this is a relevant article. Ms Toller is quoted as wanting to save Ottawa the trouble of building its incinerator!
There are troubling aspects of the proposed incinerator. Dr. Hird: “While incinerators get rid of the vast majority of trash, Hird said they also create new waste.
Fine particles called “fly ash” drift up the flue, while a coarser “bottom ash” settles at the base of the boiler and must be trucked to a landfill.
Hird cautioned that the disposal costs, combined with the high construction and maintenance costs, mean waste-to-energy conversion is not the “economic no-brainer” it might seem.”
Any WTE facility must operate 24/7 at a certain temperature to be productive; it needs a specific tonnage of material to function.
That leads me to a thought that other letter writers have mentioned: if we, as a society, are to survive, we need to rethink our consumption and how we dispose of our waste. Think ‘Circular Economy’. If we build this facility, what happens when we get our act together and reduce the garbage we produce? What will we do without that required tonnage? Cast a wider net for other communities’ waste?
A WTE facility in Durham makes some sense economically (if not environmentally) because the Durham Region has a population of just under 700,000. York Region (which accounts for about 30% of the waste for the WTE) has a population of 1.2 million https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2021/search-recherche/productresults-resultatsproduits-eng.cfm?Lang=E&GEOCODE=2022A00073570. That’s almost 3 million people (and counting). Those numbers mean a readily available market for the resulting energy to power the nearby 10,000 homes and a steady supply of waste. But it faces the same issues regarding future reductions in our waste.
Finally, let me conclude with another quote from Dr. Hird.
Hird believes there’s merit in the idea that incineration gives a “social licence” to create trash, pointing to studies that suggest recycling programs curtailed efforts to reduce waste because people thought those products would be taken care of.
“The bigger problem is that if we go with incineration or waste-to-energy, or we site a new landfill, there’s no real incentive to decrease the amount of waste we’re producing in the first place,” Hird said.
As I write in my curriculum support document, choices matter. Making wise choices is imperative.
Thank you to all the other letter writers who have helped me with my thinking.

Gerrie Storr, Norway Bay

Littering problem

Dear Editor,
I am a resident of Île du Grand Calumet and have always been passionate about keeping our local environment clean. I have been picking up people’s litter for years and have noticed that the problem is getting worse. We need to inform people on the destruction they are doing when throwing out that can, plastic bottle, cigarette butt, and so on. Maybe if they are aware of the serious damage it causes, they will think twice.
Apart from the damaging destruction littering does to the soil and our wildlife, it is a real eye sore for tourists who visit our island as it is the first thing they see when they come off the bridge. Not a very welcoming sight and first impression of our beautiful Island. And also for our local people who do not litter and who do not want to live surrounded by other people’s garbage.
Laziness and carelessness are the two main reasons people litter. They do not realize the consequences that throwing their cigarette butts on the ground may cause. Cigarette butts take 10 years to decompose. They also contain arsenic which contaminates the soil and water. Plastic litter is often mistaken for food by wildlife. Many species of marine wildlife, including birds, whales, dolphins and turtles, have been found dead with plastic and cigarettes in their bodies.
Also, it can take anywhere from 20 to 500 years to decompose. And even then, it never fully disappears. It just keeps getting smaller and smaller. Littering is everyone’s problem. I will never stop picking up litter especially along the roadside where I live.
I have contacted the MRC, the Ministry of the Environment, the town council and Transport Quebec to see if there was something they could do to help with the battle. Maybe purchase “No Littering” signs, public garbage cans and outdoor cigarette butt disposals. I know the public garbage can works to some degree as I had bought one and put it under the “Welcome” sign at the bridge. I noticed people were actually using it and there was less garbage on the side of the road. Only problem was that some people were using the garbage can to dispose of their household garbage. I had to pay to properly dispose of their garbage. But it would be much better for the council to pick up the garbage bag every week than picking it up piece by piece on the side of the road. Less time-consuming for them.
Why is it so hard for some people to stop littering?
I googled this question and this is what the response was: Others may not have been educated on the impact of littering and therefore litter because they don’t know it causes harm, while still others may live in an area where littering is an accepted part of the culture. This behavior is often the hardest to combat.
I just want more people to become aware of what damage they are doing to the local environment and to please stop. Take that can, cigarette butt or plastic soft drink bottle home with you to dispose of.

Rosemarie Farrell,
Île du Grand Calumet

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