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How the little people stopped the Tiny Township dump

The Globe and Mail reports today that, “Once upon a time, it seemed nothing could stop the ugly garbage dump of Tiny Township.”

“After 25 years of fruitless opposition, it appeared as though the people would never vanquish the mighty defenders of the dump, a scarred parcel of land called Site 41. Until one day they did, in one fell swoop banishing the memory of disappointing protests past.”
“The peasants were the first to raise their pitchforks in protest. Farmers worried that seeping garbage would wreak havoc with their cattle and crops. They were led by Steve Ogden, a flinty, determined gadfly who rallied other objectors to his side. Over the years, Mr. Ogden and the farmers were joined by a disparate alliance of wealthy cottagers, local retirees, career environmental activists and First Nations people.”

“They made for a bizarre coalition, but they transformed the sleepy dumpsite into a major destination for the celebrities of the environmental circuit. David Suzuki spoke out against it. Ralph Nader darted in for a visit. And Maude Barlow made it her movement of the moment.”

“A turning point came this spring when the heavy machinery was ready to start digging on Site 41. A group of native women from Beausoleil First Nation set up camp in a cornfield across from the dumpsite, determined to protest until the dump was shut down. They called themselves keepers of the water, and their arrival lent an air of unassailable spirituality to the uprising.”

“Their ragtag protest camp, with a skyline of teepees and tents, was the epicentre of resistance. Every morning a few dozen residents would join the campers and gather with their reusable coffee mugs outside the gates of Site 41. Some were arrested, including 82-year-old farmer Keith Wood and his 76-year-old wife Ina, a move that didn’t win much sympathy.”

“Peggy Breckenridge, the tiny mayor of Tiny Township, led the anti-dump forces on Simcoe County council. A former corporate president with a reddish-blond bob and tiny glasses at the end of her nose, Ms. Breckenridge said she was swamped by hundreds of e-mails opposed to the landfill.”

“The beginning of the end came at the county council meeting Tuesday. Hundreds of protesters crowded the public gallery and hundreds more waited outside.”

“Ms. Barlow sat in the front row, a documentary crew tracking her every move. It was her motion for a one-year moratorium on construction at Site 41 that Mayor Breckenridge was about to table. The moratorium would mean no construction until 2011…”

“Ms. Breckenridge calculated she could win a razor-thin majority, providing no one wavered. But when the voting began, there were gasps as the Wasaga Beach mayor, a long-time holdout, stood to vote in favour of the moratorium. With his support assured, other dominoes started to fall, and soon the majority had ballooned to a 22-10 victory.”

“Afterward, even the die-hard supporters of the dump were changing their tune. It’s time to move on and forget about Site 41 entirely, Warden Guergis said.”

“(The next day) opponents gathered to wave goodbye as construction equipment rolled away from Site 41. It was a victory, one that will be complete if the site is permanently axed at next month’s council meeting.”

The full article is at