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SITE 41: Meeting with councillors, and gathering together

Yesterday, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow, water campaigner Meera Karunananthan, and I met with the mayor of Collingwood, the mayor and deputy mayor of Tiny Township, and then the mayor and deputy mayor of New Tecumseth. It was a full day of driving to these different communities in Simcoe County to talk with these members of Simcoe County council about how Site 41 can be stopped.

In Collingwood Mayor Chris Carrier told us there was no imminent need for the dump, and noted that while the computer-generated ‘modflow’ report could not be released because it is the private property of the company that develped it, its results could (and should) be independently reviiewed by a hydrogeogolist. (The modflow report is a computer-generated model of the site develped by the company Jagger Himms for the Ministry of the Environment to grant the Certificate of Approval for the landfill site.)

In Tiny Township Mayor Peggy Breckenridge and Deputy Mayor George Lawrence told us that Simcoe County council would not meet again until Tuesday August 25. They were supportive of the idea of Maude speaking to all 32 councillors at this session on a Council of Canadians resolution calling for a one-year moratorium on the construction of the dump, for an independent peer review of the modflow report, and for public hearings. New Tecumseth Mayor Mike MacEachern and Deputy Mayor Rick Milne, both of whom support the dump at Site 41, stated their positions were not entrenched and that if their key concerns were addressed and new information were presented, they would reconsider their stand on the issue.

Much more was discussed at these meetings, but we concluded that portion of our day believing that with continued political pressure, sustained media coverage, and additional research, we could win a vote at Simcoe County council to stop the construction of the dump for one-year, and during that time have the critical modflow report independently assessed, and for a meaningful public consultation to take place. We believe if we can win at least a one-year moratorium (to the time of the November 2010 municipal elections), we can win a permanent stop to this dump.

Meanwhile director of organizing Carleen Pickard and Ontario-Quebec organizer Mark Calzavara worked through the logistics of today’s march, rally and concert, as well as that evening’s gathering at the protest camp outside the gates at Site 41.The gathering included speeches by Vicky Monague, Danny Beaton, Stephen Ogden, Maude Barlow and others to an assembled group of more than 100 people on a farmer’s field who listened attentively in the chill of the evening air. It also featured (the very creative idea of) an outdoor screening of Irena Salina’s documentary FLOW on a canvas placed on the backdrop of the stage. At this time we were also joined by trade campaigner Stuart Trew who has worked hard on this issue over the past months.

The evening was very moving and truly was a coming together of Indigenous peoples, local farmers, and area residents all in an effort to protect the water in the Alliston aquifer Today will start with a 9:00 am meeting with the mayor and deputy mayor of Penetanguishene, both of whom support the dump, as we try to understand their arguments and build momentum among elected officials for our resolution. And then at 10:30 am we will be at the Elmvale Arena for the start of the 7-kilometre march to Site 41, which we hope will attract a large number of concerned people, as well as media (including hopefully the Toronto Star) to convey this incredible story. That march will take us to the 1:00 pm rally and concert at Site 41. You can read more about this campaign at http://canadians.org/water/issues/Site41/index.html.