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Citizens Against Fill Dumping wants commitment to restrict fill

by Mike Robinson

ERIN - Anna Spiteri and the Citizens Against Fill Dumping are committed to eliminate unregulated fill dumping here.

On Oct. 1, Spiteri formally introduced council to the citizens’ group Citizens Against Dump Filling.

As she thanked councillors for allowing her to appear once again, “We deeply appreciate your willingness to hear, consider and respond to the concerns of town residents regarding this matter.”

Spiteri said the group has evolved from a handful of concerned citizens to a much larger group.

“We are focused on stopping the practice of indiscriminately importing fill from the GTA and dumping it in our communities because of the many negative impacts on our environment, farmland, quality of life and potentially even our property values.”

She said that the GTA continues to grow at a disturbing rate and with this growth comes an increasing demand for places to dump its unwanted excavation material.

That problem has come into the backyard of Erin residents, she said.

“We are alarmed by the amount of unregulated industrial and commercial fill that is being imported into our community - the Town of Erin and Wellington County.”

She explained that both Erin and Wellington County are prime destinations for this fill because of the location immediately north of the provincially designated Green Belt.

Spiteri suggested there is significant financial incentive for people to accept fill and be compensated accordingly, but this practice has significant implications for neighbours, the communities and the environment.

Spiteri said the group wants to raise awareness, to convince Erin and Wellington County councils to ban the importation of fill - except by approval of a variance committee composed of resident and council representatives.

Ultimately, the group wants the province to pass a Fill Act, to rigorously regulate the trucking, export and disposition of fill in Ontario - particularly in rural areas.

“We know municipalities individually cannot solve this issue that has grown out of control.”

She invited councillors or local residents to visit the group’s website and to get to know what the organization is about.

The website is set to officially launch in mid-October.

She said the group has started the process by meeting with Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott to inform him that the local issues are systematic of a the greater problem created by the province’s intensification policy of Places to Grow.

She added that fill needs to be regulated province-wide.

Spiteri added that the group also plans to connect with like-minded organizations across Ontario.

“I want to close by thanking council once again for imposing a cease and desist ruling on the importation of fill into certain sites, and for initiating a full review of the bylaws governing fill importation. You have shown that you are listening and care about residents, the quality of life in Erin and our environment ... and doing what is right for the town of Erin.”

“We sincerely want to be a constructive part of the solution to this mounting problem.”

Councillor Barb Tocher requested a copy of Spiteri’s written commentary.

Mayor Lou Maieron said council has looked at both where the fill is coming from and going to.

He noted that when he started as mayor, local conservation authorities were approving fill permits without informing the town.

“We would only find out when people would complain.”

That situation has changed.

“We’ve agreed with the CVC and GRCA to notify each other regarding permits.”

Maieron did not believe there has been a new fill application made since that understanding was reached.

He suggested that when aggregate businesses are bringing aggregates to these construction sites, that they return with a load of fill from the construction site [which has been checked over].

“The truck is coming back regardless and at the end of the pit’s life there is a big hole which needs to be filled as part of site rehabilitation.”

To Maieron it made sense that the truck would head down and return with full loads.

Therefore at the end of the pit’s life, there is material to rehabilitate the site - and reduce the environmental footprint by not having the truck travelling with no load.

He asked council if it wanted help in this matter.

“But we are still looking at improving the bylaw.”

He asked whether the creation of an ad hoc committee would help - representing both sides of the issue.

Councillor Tocher noted there were a number of requests within Spiteri’s presentation and she’d prefer to see them in writing to better review them.

Tocher said she’d also like to see staff suggestions to the comments as what might be workable.

“But until we have all the information in front of us ...” it is hard to agree on a direction, Tocher said.

In response to councillor Josie Wintersinger’s question on the size of the group, Spiteri said there is a list of 35 members and another 10 who have been involved at one point and there are others she was unable to contact prior to the night’s meeting

“But all of them are passionate about this,” Spitiri said.

“It definitely is an issue out there.”

October 11, 2013


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