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Put Danford dump to a vote
By Ian Lordon, The Low Down to Hull & Back News Feb. 17,2006

Apologies to Shakespeare for the bastardization, but the bard would surely approve if he witnessed recent events in the tiny municipality with a big ambition. What fun Billy could have with Mayor Joe Squitty and his bull-headed rush to turn his town into the trashcan of Outaouais.

If only Squitty were a little more like Hamlet— vacillating, wavering, doubting. Questioning, even mildly, the wisdom of his actions. Alas, the mayor is a study in conviction, his faith unshakable. He is certain beyond a shadow's shadow of a doubt that the engineered landfill proposed for his community is its ticket to salvation.

Odd really Cantley wishes its landfill had never been born. Another in Val-Des-Monts was recently written up for violating environmental regulations. And in Carp, people are coming out in droves to try and put the brakes on landfill expansion there.

The people are coming out in Danford too. Granted some favour the proposal, but most who turn up at council meetings are opposed. The lack of popular support, the sort of thing that leads most politicians to reconsider a proposal, has the opposite effect on Squitty. He becomes increasingly intransigent, digs his heels in deeper, defies his constituents, and does everything in his power (earned by acclamation) to see it through.

In these days of poll-driven policy making and floor-crossing opportunism, such consistency from a politician ought to be refreshing, but in Squitty's case it's disturbing. His case for the dump boils down to two bucks a tonne— the tithe the landfill's promoters have promised to pay the municipality if the project goes ahead.

Yes, there might be a couple of dozen jobs, unspecified improvements to municipal facilities, firefighters on duty 24-seven, and no tipping fees for residents, but the big bait is the money. It's a juicy offer, and Squitty has made it clear if it isn't accepted property owners will face tax increases to pay for new municipal responsibilities coming on line in years to come.

Trouble is, the ratepayers don't care. Or, for the most part, they seem more concerned about keeping the garbage out than keeping taxes down. They seem perfectly willing to pay more for the status quo. And this is where Squitty's determination takes on a disturbing quality because he's ignoring his obligation to represent the will of his people.

There is a solution to the impasse. The landfill opponents have called for a referendum on the issue, a request Squitty refused. They want the question put to a vote, and they are prepared to live with the result.

Some might argue a referendum restricted to Danford property owners neglects neighbouring communities that could be affected if the landfill goes ahead. This may be true, but a 'yes' vote would clearly justify Alleyn and Cawood's support for the project and grant an acclaimed mayor and council a clear mandate to proceed with it.

Given the inevitable and lasting impact the project will have on the community and its people, anything less seems pretty rotten.

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