A News Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted June 20th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
Last time I looked at the calendar on my wall, I thought I read the year 2016 on it.
Yet when it comes to almost anything to do with environmental protection in this Niagara, Ontario region, most of those we now have sitting on our municipal councils have taken us back to a time – at least five or six decades ago – where we had the proverbial canary in the coalmine telling us it was time to hold an Earth Day and get an environmental movement started.
So how good it is that we are seeing growing numbers of everyday residents across this region, including members of that younger, millennial generation Bernie Sanders has tapped into across the border, standing up for a better regional transit system, for protecting what is left of our wetlands, woodlands and food lands, and against proposals to build and operate garbage incinerators.
That’s right, in the year 2016 in Ontario – right here in Niagara where “open for business” is code for treat anyone who appears before council to press for a greener agenda that is compatible with growth and prosperity like human garbage – there is a move afoot by private interests to burn the kind of garbage our society continues to generate far too much of in our homes and businesses in an incinerator that would be built and operated somewhere in or around Thorold community of Allanburg.
And just to make the scheme a little more palatable for those of us who have a thing against heat loss, the heat generated from the countless tonnes of garbage that would be burned in what is being described by some as an “energy-from-waste facility” would be spun into electricity that would be sold to the province’s hydro grid.
With that in mind, a majority of elected reps sitting on the councils for Thorold and Niagara’s regional government have already given the incinerator’s proponents – Future Waste Systems (Niagara), Tri-Grove Holdings and Tesla Energy Institute – their blessing to apply to the provincial government for an eight cents per kilowatt hour subsidy for energy generation from the incinerator.
These council approvals, which might rightly be viewed as a first roll out of a Welcome Mat for the incinerator proponents, came this past February with virtually no discussion or debate from council, and with hardly a word of coverage from the manstream media where anything resembling real environmental coverage has gone the way of that canary.
So we should all give a high five to Niagara area resident Liz Benneian and other concerned citizens in the region who have organized a group called ‘No Burn Niagara’ with an aim to challenge this scheme which belongs back in the early to middle decades of the last century with Love Canal, DDT and spraying PCB-laced oil on rural roads as a form of dust control.
“Incinerators are worse polluters that coal-fired energy plants and Ontario just got rid of coal-burning plants. So why would they now go to incinerators,” said Benneian at an inaugural meeting the group hosted for any residents who wished to attend at the Allanburg Community Centre this past June 16th.
The meeting was attended by about three dozen area residents, which wasn’t bad considering it happened on one of the few really nice-to-be-outdoors weekday evenings we had this spring and it wasn’t given any advance coverage in the mainstream media. In fact, no reporter from the mainstream papers bothered to attend.
One of the individuals who did attend was Thorold councillor Sergio Paone, who is also a chemistry professor at Brock University who knows about the potential health and environmental dangers of burning wastes containing plastics and other industrial produced agents in an incinerator, and who was also the only councillor who was at a Thorold council last February 16th who did not vote in favour of the incinerator group’s plan to apply for an energy subsidy from the province.
Paone told me he abstained because he felt the council had not been given enough information and time to review and discuss the whole matter before making a decision.
Benneian, who is also founder of a province-wide group called the Ontario Zero Waste Coalition has been following issues involving waste incinerators in the province for years and it is important to know that she lives several kilometres away from Allanburg in the Niagara town of Lincoln. So this plan for a waste-burning incinerator in Allanburg is not something where so many of the bullies we have running municipal government in Niagara now can smear her with a NIMBY or ‘not-in-my-backyard’ brush.
More truthfully, it so far appears that Benneian and others in the greater Niagara community who share her concerns have a much better grasp of the data that is out there – and has been out there now for many years – showing why taking household and commercial waste and burning it in an incinerator, even under the guise of generating energy, does not, in the long term, make a good deal of environmental or economic sense.
It is also an assault on almost everything environmental experts around the world have been saying for decades about the need to move as far as we can in the direction of reducing the volumes of waste we generate to zero.
“We don’t have a garbage disposal problem. We have a resource management problem,” stressed Benneian at the meeting. “We are a wasteful society but we don’t have to be.”
Those are messages that appear to be beyond the grasp of those now calling the shots at the municipal level in this Niagara region.
Niagara At Large will continue following this issue.
In the meantime, you can learn more by checking out No Burn Niagara on Facebook or by contacting Alysha at: firstname.lastname@example.org; 289-228-8800
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“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders