Erin fill issue on final council session; new council to review

The fill issue once again was dredged up in the final meeting of the current term of office.

On Nov. 25 Anna Spiteri once again sought council for a resolution regarding the regulation of fill.

“Fill dumping is becoming an ever increasing problem in Ontario – not just in the Town of Erin.

“It will continue to plague us until a comprehensive strategy to regulate fill excess soil is established with provincial ministries working side-by-side with municipal governments.”

Spiteri also thanked Erin councillors for striking the ad hoc committee to look at the fill issue.

She added particular thanks to committee chair Deb Callaghan for her hard work keeping members to the task of reviewing the existing fill bylaw.

“Although much was achieved there is still work to be done before it comes back to council,” Spiteri said.

She said with council commitment and citizen tenacity Erin will have better fill regulations to make Erin a safer place to live and have the province pass a Clean Soil Act.

“We all know that ultimately the province must take leadership in dealing with this problem which was created by the policy Places to Grow.”

She asked council to support a resolution asking the province to regulate soil and fill in Ontario.

Spiteri then noted her submission of a resolution she hoped would be passed by councillors.

“Your support will speak volumes when our group meets with Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott and Environment Commissioner Gord Miller on Dec. 3 in Toronto. At that time, we will share our plans to achieve our goal.”

The resolution states “the provincial government’s intensification policy of Places to Grow has created a excess soil problem in Ontario.”

The document also stated that the GTHA (Greater Toronto and Hamilton area) continues to grow and with this growth comes an increasing demand for places to dump their unwanted excavated material.

It notes that there currently is not a system of regulated disposal control for fill in Ontario but each municipality is left to decide how to deal with it.

The resolution also noted that since the Ministry of Environment is assessing a new comprehensive provincial policy to address the problem of compromised soil and to ensure that fill being dumped onto sites is safe.

In addition, the MOE is reviewing the Environmental Bill of Rights of Soil Policy

The resolution states that the Town of Erin requests that the Ontario government develop a comprehensive strategy to regulate fill in the province and to pass a Fill Act which will help municipalities deal with fill under their jurisdiction.

The resolution further requested that the MOE in consultation with Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Transportation Conservation Authorities and AMO spearhead the development of a comprehensive strategy to regulate fill and that this resolution be forwarded to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the County of Wellington Council, the Greater Toronto Countryside Mayors Alliance, and ROMA Rural Ontario Municipal Association  for circulation and support.

Councillor John Brennan said he has noticed that other municipalities are seeing a heavy toll on their local roads and suggested bringing this to the attention of the Good Roads organization would also be a good move.

Brennan initially suggested that the current council endorse the resolution in principle instead of passing it.

Then Brennan said he would like the new council to consider passing the resolution “at our first opportunity.”

He added “going forward we are going to be asking the province and various players to do things on our behalf.”

He considered that a better case could be made with an endorsement and resolution by the council of that day as opposed to a resolution from a council which no longer exists.

He thought that approach might make the arguments a bit stronger.

Mayor Lou Maieron noted one of the reasons behind the resolution was to have the support prior to the Dec. 3 meeting in Toronto.

Spiteri believed it would suffice to have the current council support the resolution in principle and then make some word-smithing changes before final passage.

“One of the changes was switching the word ‘fill’ with ‘excess soil’ which fits in better with the proposed Clean Soil Act,” she said.

Council eventually chose to pass the resolution and ask that the incoming council endorse it as well.