No mega dump for Danford, Que

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by Mark Burgess on July 2, 2009

July 1, 2009  -  Quebec Environment Minister Line Beauchamp has rejected the proposed mega-dump at Danford Lake, Quebec pleasing environmentalists and neighbouring municipalities but leaving “the poorest people in Quebec” feeling hard done by.

“It’s really good news,” said Gatineau MNA Stephanie Vallee. “Now we have to find solutions but I’m happy.”

The Coalition Against the Danford Megadump celebrated the decision, calling it a victory for “our lakes, and our forests, and our rivers, and our wildlife” in a press release.

The group, led by Andre Carriere and Michele Borchers, praised Beauchamp, Vallee and Outaouais MRC wardens for their support in fighting the proposed dump.

Vallee pointed to the Quebec Environmental Review Board’s conclusions, saying the dump wasn’t socially acceptable, although she acknowledged that smaller municipalities have trouble funding solutions to garbage because of their limited tax base.

“Sometimes they may lean to a cheaper solution because money is scarce,” she said.

Michael McCrank, warden for the Pontiac MRC, said his region “was screwed again, as usual,” pointing the finger at both the provincial government and neighbouring MRCs.

“Our friends the elitists in the Outaouais can pat themselves on the back today but people who can’t afford to go to Montreal with their garbage will be filling the lakes with it, so I hope they’re happy,” he said.

“We’re the poorest people in Quebec and they’re picking on us the worst.”

McCrank feels there will be a time for innovative solutions to garbage but doesn’t think the technology is ready yet.

The proposed site was on Hwy 301, eight kilometres west of the Village of Danford Lake. The Municipality of Alleyn-and-Cawood would have benefited from dumping fees as well as jobs created by the dump.

The dump’s opponents listed its potential environmental effects – including contamination of groundwater and the Kazabazua and Picanoc rivers – as well increased truck traffic along Hwys 105 and 301 and reduced property value.

Jean Perras, Mayor of Chelsea and the MRC des Collines’ warden, said the decision provides an opportunity to think differently about waste and to examine strategies employed in countries such as Sweden, Germany and Norway where waste is producing energy.

Perras said the whole planet is at a phase where putting garbage in the earth is no longer acceptable.

“The ball is now in our court to find a better alternative,” he said, referring to the MRCs.

Low’s mayor, Mike Francis, welcomed the news and applauded Vallee for what he called “Trojan work” in her fight against the dump.

Francis is already looking ahead to applying waste-to-energy technology in the region. He thinks the MRCs and the city of Gatineau can join forces to develop garbage incineration or gasification plants, although he said new legislation will be required to support it.

“Unless modifications are made (to the legislation) we’re still limited in our options,” he said.

Vallee said modifications to Quebec’s garbage burial and incineration policy were proposed this spring and will be dealt with in the fall.

The solutions, she said, will have to come from the municipalities, as waste falls within their jurisdictions.

McCrank isn’t eager to sit down with the other MRCs again any time soon, though.

“I don’t know why we should,” he said. “All our decisions are made for us before we get there anyway.”