Residents of north Oshawa are upset with how city council has handled recent meetings regarding a landfill application close to their homes.
Whitby company Hard-Co Construction has applied to the City of Oshawa to operate a landfill site on about 140 acres of land at 3440 Wilson Rd. N.
City council had promised two public meetings regarding the issues back in January, however, recently proposed moving those meetings to a virtual format.
It’s a move that would be unfair for residents in north Oshawa, who experience unstable internet and phone coverage, says Clint Cole, president of the Enniskillen Environmental Association.
“This is an access to have public communication on a broad scale, like a meeting. So, what you would have [if held virtually] is you would only have a few people probably participating as opposed to a larger group of people based on either internet integrity or based on comfort with using that platform,” says Cole.
It’s a case of deja vu for the residents of the area, situated north of Columbus Road. They are concerned about the proposed landfill site after Hard-Co operated another site less than a kilometre away at 618 Columbus Rd. E. from 2008 to 2016. The residents say toxic materials such as used tires, rebar and paper mill sludge were found being dumped at that initial site.
Allen Frank is a north Oshawa resident who has been living on Ritson Road for 48 years. Frank is one of many residents living within close proximity to both sites who has developed cancer following 2008.
“In a one-kilometre distance, out of nine consecutive homes, there is cancer in seven of them, four are bladder cancer,” says Frank. “Surely this [cancer cluster] should send a red flag and be seriously considered when issuing a permit for landfill sites.”
Frank says residents never knew about the first fill site until the trucks started rolling in.
“We were never notified about that. Our wells were never tested by them [City of Oshawa]. Now if they want to be responsible, they would test all the local residents’ wells around that area to see how clean it is and then in five years from now check them again to see if they have changed. I bet you they will,” says Frank, who has also been asking the City to do environmental testing of the previous Hard-Co site before the City considers the application for the new location.
Hard-Co President, Marshall Harding, says the company has made all necessary steps required by the City to attain the permit, including an environmental assessment of the proposed site.
“We’ve done everything required for these applications, we still get painted with this brush that all we care about is the profits, that we don’t care about the environment,” Harding says.
Councillor John Neal, who represents north Oshawa residents in Ward 1, says the City has a weak site-alteration bylaw which does not protect rural residents’ wells and water.
Neal also says accepting a large fill permit, which borders environmentally sensitive land of the Oak Ridges Moraine, goes directly against the city’s 2020-23 strategic plan.
“They’re [City of Oshawa] just saying, as long as they follow the site-alteration bylaw, which is terrible – it doesn’t protect the water or anybody’s well,” says Neal. “But they can put something nice and pretty like this out, and then not even follow it, their own policy…it’s mind boggling.”
A protest by Neal and residents in support of a moratorium on the landfill site application and an interim control bylaw, which would pause the application by Hard-Co, was held on Nov. 4 outside city council.
The City has not imposed a moratorium or approved an interim control bylaw.
At council’s Dec. 14 meeting, Frank and fellow resident Mary Finer phoned in and spoke about their concerns that an approved application will again compromise the quality of life of residents due to traffic, dust, noise and potential water contamination from the proposed site.
A final decision regarding the application has yet to be made.