Coalition contre le mégadépotoir de Danford
Coalition Against Danford Mega-dump
C. P. 911, Danford Lake (Québec) J0X 1P0
Danford Lake (Québec), le 16 mai 2006
Mme Nathalie Normandeau,
ministre des Affaires municipales
Aile Chauveau, 4e étage
10, rue Pierre-Olivier-Chauveau
Re: Public consultation process in Danford Lake, Municipality of Alleyn- and-Cawood, M.R.C. de Pontiac, Outaouais Region
Madame la Ministre,
In 2004, the Alleyn-and-Cawood Municipal Council contacted a newly created private company (LDC, Gestion et Services environnementaux)— characterized by the Quebec Ministry of Environment itself as having no known experience in the field of waste management—to provide “technical expertise” in replacing the existing municipal trench landfill with an engineered landfill. Once the local community discovered—one year later—that the proposal was not for a municipal landfill but for a regional landfill, opposition exploded in the municipality and later spread to neighbouring municipalities.
Aside from the controversy surrounding the proposed regional landfill, the process by which the Municipal Council advances this project is itself the subject of considerable unhappiness and mistrust. Our letter to Premier Charest of January 20, copied to you, underlines these concerns in more detail.
Nearly 300 people attended the public consultation meeting held on April 3, 2006 regarding the Municipality of Alleyn-and Cawood's modifications to its bylaws. At that meeting, participants were informed by the urban planner, in the presence of Municipal Affairs officials, that Alleyn-and-Cawood ratepayers would have 15 days following the meeting, i.e. until April 18, to submit their written input and that the Council would have a limited period of time to reply. The urban planner was also very clear about the opening of a register, followed by a referendum involving ALL Alleyn-and-Cawood ratepayers if the number of qualified voters signing the register was sufficient.
To the surprise of all, an update of the public consultation process was not on the last council meeting’s agenda. We attempted to obtain clarification from the mayor and from the urban planner who presented the municipal draft by-laws at the April 3 public consultation. The mayor’s answers were not clear and did not always address the question that was put to him. The urban planner has not replied to our email dated May 4. Would you please assist us in finding out which procedure the municipality is using to implement the consultation process.
Furthermore, at the May Council meeting, the mayor stated that the urban planner was “going over the letters” received from Alleyn-and-Cawood ratepayers and that the Council would need considerable time to reply because of the very large number of letters received. Since almost all ratepayers opted to use the standard letter proposed by the Coalition (copy attached), the number of individual different responses required is minimal. The municipality seems to be using this as an excuse to stall the consultation process once again.
At the May Council meeting, Mayor Squitti also declared that there would no point in opening a register if the Council agreed with every change proposed by the ratepayers in their letters. However, as the Coalition’s standard letter, besides proposing one specific change, also points to “a number of contradictions” that appear in the by-laws, we do not believe that the municipal council has any choice but to open a register.
And why were the draft by-laws presented at all, given the very volatile tensions within the community, if the Municipal Council had no intention of following through with the process? Surely, the Mayor must realize that further postponements would only create more frustration and tension within this troubled community. This is absolutely unacceptable! Public frustration is giving way to public indignation. We ask for your assistance in correcting this injustice and in helping to establish meaningful dialogue between the parties within the community and with the MRC de Pontiac. There is urgency in dealing with the real issue: finding a solution to waste disposal/management democratically, responsibly and collectively.
Alleyn-and-Cawood ratepayers have repeatedly demanded rectification of the flawed consultation process that mislead the community by describing the proposed engineered landfill as merely an upgrading of the existing municipal trench landfill, not as a regional landfill. The only appropriate corrective action is a referendum, in which the ratepayers of the municipality can express their opinion in a secret ballot. However, it is a matter of public record that the Mayor, contrary to his public declarations that “it’s going to be a community decision”, has proceeded to deny every request by the community to participate in any decision-making. As one Alleyn-and-Cawood resident stated during the May Council meeting: “The Mayor is representing the promoter, not the community”.
A petition opposing the proposed regional engineered landfill in Danford Lake currently bears well over 3,000 signatures, including a majority of Alleyn-and-Cawood ratepayers. The number of signatures continues to increase as seasonal residents return to the area. This clearly demonstrates public opposition both to this method of waste disposal and to the dubious methods used to impose it upon the community. It should be noted that the people opposing the proposed regional engineered landfill understand the need to find solutions to waste management challenges. They are doing their share to propose alternatives to decision makers and are involving experts in this domain. Reasons for opposing the proposed regional engineered landfill in Danford Lake are posted on our website and can be accessed at www.savedanford.com.
The situation in Alleyn-and-Cawood is reaching crisis proportions, and we strongly request your help. For the sake of the community, this process needs to be concluded quickly and in the manner outlined by the municipality’s urban planner at the April public consultation meeting.
Michèle Borchers, Vice-president
Jean Charest, Premier ministre
M. Claude Béchard, ministre du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs
M. Benoît Pelletier, ministre responsable de l’Outaouais
Mme Charlotte L’Écuyer, Députée du Pontiac
Mme Louise Harel, Chef de l’opposition officielle
Mario Dumont, chef de l’Action démocratique du Québec
M. M. McCrank, Préfet de la M.R.C. de Pontiac
Maître Nério de Candido, avocat
[standard letter proposed to the ratepayers of Alleyn-and-Cawood for submission of their comments following the April 3 public consultation meeting]
Subject: the by-laws presented at the Public Consultation meeting of April 3, 2006:
I wish to register my disagreement with these by-laws for the following reasons. First, I am opposed to the Municipality of Alleyn and Cawood submitting its candidacy to regional authorities to be considered for the establishment of a regional landfill for the territory of the MRC Pontiac, as is indicated under 2.2.4 of the Urban Planning by-law. I ask that this section be amended as follows: ¨The Municipality of Alleyn and Cawood will not seek or accept to host a regional landfill site on its territory¨.
Second, I do not support engineered landfills as they are based on outdated technology that should not be carried forward for 30 years or more into the future. I do not consider that more modern and less damaging waste disposal and management options have been given proper consideration. I therefore oppose by-law 04-027, entitled Plan d’ Urbanisme.
In addition to the above, a number of contradictions appear in the remaining by-laws and, although clarification was sought at the April 3rd meeting, no clear answers were provided to these contradictions. Many of the questions were not properly responded to or remained without any reply at all. Matters were only made worse by having the documents in French only for a largely Anglophone population of this Municipality who are accustomed to dealing with Council in English, the customary language used during all Council meetings. Furthermore, the meeting was prematurely closed before all parties present could ask their questions as is provided for under the relevant legislation.
As the by-laws presented on April 3 form one submission and for the reasons provided above, I must therefore oppose them in whole.
Resident/ratepayer of Alleyn and Cawood.