NOV2012: OPAL at Liberal Leader Candidate Debate

OPAL would like to thank the participants of the Saturday December 1st gathering in front of the Fusion Centre, Ingersoll. The Liberal leadership candidates saw first hand some of the families who are fighting to protect Oxford County from Walker's proposal!

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photos by M. Cooper

Here is some media coverage of the event:

http://www.woodstocksentinelreview.com/2012/11/30/opal-bringing-landfill-questions-to-liberal-leadership-candidates

OPAL bringing landfill questions to Liberal leadership candidates

Friday, November 30, 2012 2:25

Oxford People Against the Landfill (OPAL) will be digging for input from Ontario Liberal Party leadership candidates during a debate in Ingersoll on Saturday, Dec. 1. 
“We are very interested to hear what the candidates have to say,” said Steve McSwiggan, an Ingersoll resident and chair of the OPAL Alliance, which is opposing Walker Environmental Group's landfill proposal in Zorra.“We welcome the opportunity to inform the Liberal party and the people who hope to lead it that our community is dealing with a grave, life-changing concern that is already adversely impacting us - Walker Industries’ mega landfill proposal.”

http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/11/30/gloves-not-off-as-contenders-to-replace-dalton-mcguinty-face-first-debate/

Gloves not off as contenders to replace Dalton McGuinty face first debate

Canadian Press | Nov 30, 2012 
The candidates are expected to greeted in Ingersoll by protesters opposed to a landfill in the area.

“We welcome the opportunity to inform the Liberal party and the people who hope to lead it that our community is dealing with a grave, life-changing concern that is already adversely impacting us: Walker Industries’ mega landfill proposal,” said Steve McSwiggan, Ingersoll resident and chair of Oxford People Against the Landfill.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ontarios-liberal-leadership-candidates-participate-in-first-debate-saturday/article5856540/

Ontario’s Liberal leadership candidates participate in first debate Saturday

Toronto — The Canadian Press
Published Friday, Nov. 30 2012

Delegates will be selected at meetings across the province the weekend of Jan. 11-12, just two weeks before the convention.

The candidates are expected to be greeted in Ingersoll by protesters opposed to a landfill in the area.

“We welcome the opportunity to inform the Liberal party and the people who hope to lead it that our community is dealing with a grave, life-changing concern that is already adversely impacting us: Walker Industries’ mega landfill proposal,” said Steve McSwiggan, Ingersoll resident and chair of Oxford People Against the Landfill.

http://blackburnnews.com/london/london-news/2012/12/01/rally-against-landfill-greets-liberal-leader-hopefuls/

Rally Against Landfill Greets Liberal Leader Hopefuls

December 1st, 2012

Saying a proposed new landfill in their area stinks, residents in Oxford did their best to get the attention of Liberal Leadership candidates heading into a debate.

http://www.ingersolltimes.com/2012/12/01/ontario-liberal-leadership-hopefuls-gather-in-ingersol-for-first-of-five-debates

Ontario Liberal leadership hopefuls gather in Ingersol for first of five debates

By Scott Taylor, The London Free Press
Saturday, December 1, 2012 4:09:19 

INGERSOLL - Amid a noisy crowd of protesters outside, seven Liberals debated in small-town Southwestern Ontario for the right to replace Dalton McGuinty as the leader of the provincial Grits and -- for a short time, at least -- as premier.

http://www.1047.ca/local-news/44787

Liberals Being Met by Double-Whammy of Protest

2012-12-01

Liberal Leadership contenders and delegates will be met by protests in Ingersoll today.

Oxford People Against the Landfill are set to hold a rally outside of the Fusion Centre.

OPAL says it will be asking the potential premiers questions, such as 'Why communities are not allowed to decide whether or not they will accept mega projects like landfills?'

The group is rallying against the Walker Industries proposal to open one of Canada's largest landfills in the Beachville Quarry.

Also protesting the Liberals today will be the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and likely a few teachers. They're protesting Bill 115 that imposes a contract on education workers, which CUPE says is legislation that attacks free collective bargaining rights.

http://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=817881&playlistId=1.1062249&binId=1.815923

December 1, 2012

CTV Kitchener: First Ontario Liberal debate -video

http://1047.ca/local-news/44835

Hundreds Turn Out to Protest at Liberal Leadership Debate

 2012-12-02 

OPAL Alliance spokesperson Karen Paton-Evans didn't feel like their message was getting lost amongst all the other issues. "This is tremendous that so many concerned citizens of Ontario are here, letting their government know that there's a lot that needs to be looked at in this province. There's many things that are concerning all of us, and I'm really pleased to see democracy in action in this big way."

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OPAL Alliance Media Release

OPAL to Voice Anti-Dump Position at Liberal Leadership Debate in Ingersoll

INGERSOLL – Oxford People Against the Landfill (OPAL Alliance) will be on hand to greet the participants in the Ontario Liberal Leadership debate when they arrive in Ingersoll this Sat., Dec. 1. 

“We welcome the opportunity to inform the Liberal party and the people who hope to lead it that our community is dealing with a grave, life-changing concern that is already adversely impacting us: Walker Industries’ mega landfill proposal,” says Steve McSwiggan, Ingersoll resident and chairperson of OPAL Alliance, a grassroots volunteer organization of residents opposing the corporation’s landfill proposal. OPAL is allied with the Council of Canadians, the CAW, Gravel Watch Ontario, the Green Earth Campaign, Oxford Coalition for Social Justice, Oxford Green Watch and other like-minded partners. 

OPAL’s extensive research has revealed many dangers that could harm the people of Oxford should Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment approve Walker Industries’ proposal to create one of Canada’s largest landfills in a local quarry. Carmeuse Lime Ltd. has leased 200 acres to Walker and given the waste management corporation rights to its entire quarry site, exceeding 2,000 acres. 

The proposed landfill site sits in Zorra Township and right on the borders of the residential and farming communities of Ingersoll, Centreville and Beachville. The for-profit venture plans to accept garbage from all over Ontario, including Toronto, causing a minimum of 100 trucks of garbage plus numerous trucks hauling contaminated brownfield soil to rumble in and out of the rural community daily. 

Oxford County has no need for the landfill as it currently has its own landfill and is exploring a transition to a waste-to-energy solution for the future. This year, the County of Oxford implemented a moratorium on all future landfills within its boundaries and sent a message to Queen’s Park, calling on the Province to do likewise. 

All of Oxford County depends on public and private wells for drinking water and water for agricultural and other purposes. The landfill site is directly over an aquifer shared by many wells serving homes and family farms. Recognizing that Canadian reports have declared that all landfills will leak leachate, local residents are rightfully alarmed by Walker Industries’ proposal. “It is our community’s right to decide what is best for us,” McSwiggan says.

“A mega landfill in the heart of Oxford County would be disastrous.” Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, says, “Across Ontario, people are standing up to protect their communities from unwanted industrial megaprojects like the Walker dump. We helped stop Dumpsite 41, we helped stop the Megaquarry and we will help stop this ridiculous proposal to put a dump in a quarry. The next Premier of Ontario must give communities the legal right to refuse unwanted megaprojects. That will protect what we have for future generations and prevent these battles from starting in the first place as industry will seek out willing communities before they enter the approvals process.”

Under the current process, the Ministry of the Environment requires Walker Industries to receive citizens’ input, create a Terms of Reference and conduct an Environmental Assessment, all of which Walker is to submit to the MOE with the aim of getting its landfill approved. As Oxford County has learned, it is up to residents to voice their concerns and say, “No!” to the landfill by commenting to Walker now and the Ministry of the Environment in the spring.

Community groups such as OPAL feel forced to organize and expend thousands of volunteer hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars over many years fighting proposals put forth by Walker Industries and other corporations. Local governments that usually concentrate on economic development, finance and citizen protection find their resources diverted to address the environmental, social and economic threats that mega landfills represent.
“Here we have a case of urban trash being shipped to a rural community, instead of large centres dealing with their waste management on their own turf. Oxford County manages its own garbage locally. OPAL believes it is every community’s responsibility to deal with its waste in safe, responsible ways that do not harm and destroy other county’s home values, water, air, agriculture, their very way of life,” McSwiggan says. 

The proposed landfill’s threats to water and air are in the future; however, some residents are suffering harm now. In Centreville, widow Christine Johnstone recently realized she needed to access her home’s equity to help with the costs of raising her two young daughters and keeping a roof over their heads. She was devastated when an appraiser decreased the value of her home by one-third, attributing the significant devaluation to the property’s proximity to Walker Industries’ proposed landfill site. Now the Johnstones cannot afford to stay in their home, nor can they afford to leave. Another Centreville property was similarly devalued due to the landfill proposal, even though Walker Industries has not yet made application to the MOE.

On Dec. 1, OPAL will be asking prospective new Premiers questions that local residents need answered. Why, under present government policy, are communities not allowed to decide whether or not they will accept life changing mega projects like landfills, quarries or nuclear sites within their borders? Why are a community’s rights limited only to commenting on a proponent’s plans and assessments, when that community should have the right to reject the project’s existence before it disrupts and harms the region’s environmental health, property values, lifestyle and peace of mind? What will the Liberal candidates, the people who wish to serve all Ontarians, do to protect us, here and in the future?

“Members of OPAL will be inside the Fusion Youth Centre and also outside walking the sidewalk with signs, determined to make the Liberal party aware of the very real problems this landfill proposal has created for us,” McSwiggan says. “We are very interested to hear what the candidates have to say.”