It was interesting to see in your pages a written argument for an EcoPark in Dundalk: Misinformation swirling about EcoPark, letter to the editor by Mary Fowler, April 25.
Mary Fowler is correct – there is a lot of misinformation swirling around the Ecopark. Consider the following:
• Maps: The 2009 redrawing of Southgate’s map of the “ecopark” land obscured wetland that was visible in the previous map. Today’s OP map is a less accurate depiction of what can be seen from the ground.
• Notices: Southgate published a notice of a Feb. 4, 2009 meeting to consider a proposed zoning bylaw. The notice does mention correction of spelling and punctuation errors but it fails to mention that one version of the zoning bylaw being considered at that time would have reversed the standing zoning prohibition to allow waste disposal and processing in Dundalk.
• Zoning interpretations: Fortunately, the version of the 2009 bylaw that allowed waste processing was not the one that was signed – although you would hardly know that from the decisions Southgate Council has taken in the last year to sell land, install services, and approve a site plan for a waste processing facility. How have those decisions been justified without waste processing zoning in place you ask? “Waste processing is a form of dry industry,” they say.
• Rationale for Closed Meetings: On April 6, 2011, Southgate Council met with Rick Mosher, President of Lystek in a meeting that Council closed to the public – according to Southgate “under Section 239(2) of the Municipal Act, S.O. 2001, in order to address a matter pertaining to the purpose of educating the members of Council.” Educating? Some subject. Some teacher.
• “Willing Host:” On June 24, 2011, Southgate Township sent a “willing host” letter to the MOE, telling the province that the people of Southgate were willing to receive the sewage sludge and slaughterhouse waste generated in other communities. Of course, at the time, the people of Dundalk had absolutely no idea that such an idea was afoot. If you have a tapeworm, and don’t know it, are you still a willing host?
• “ Environmental Implications:” In September 2011, Lystek stated that the output of their proposed facility could be spread on farmland with “no environmental implications.” Of course sewage sludge contains heavy metals from industry. The Lystek process removes none of them. And the Ministry of the Environment has, up until now, imposed procedures to monitor and set limits for the accumulation of heavy metals in farmland when sewage sludge has been used for fertilizer. Do they do that just for fun?
• “I heard from a very reliable source:” Last week, Lystek Spokesman Kevin Litweller told the Dock radio audience that the court date for the Building Permit appeal had been pushed back because SPIRG had fired their lawyer. Litweller’s comments were false and quickly demonstrated to be so – but not before the speculation was circulating in the community. So what consequences did Mr. Litweller and his employer actually face here?
Perhaps by the time of the next municipal election campaign in October 2014, advocates of the ecopark (especially any who wish to run again for council) will share a real case for a Dundalk “ecopark” - an objective case based on factual evidence that calculates the full costs, risks and liabilities – and tallies the percent of projected commercial revenues that will be paid out in taxes and royalties to Southgate Township and in wages for Southgate residents. Perhaps then, the citizens of Southgate can examine that case and make an informed choice about it with their vote.
But so far, Southgate citizens have not been given that option, and, Mary is right – in its absence, the community has certainly been exposed to a swirl of misinformation.
James Cooke, Vice President, SPIRG