South Nation Watershed – Go to bottom of posting to see details of Public Meetings on 25 & 27 February, 2013
As part of the campaign to preserve healthy Ontario rivers please note that a very valuable, rich and unique habitat containing numerous species-at-risk and holding the headwaters of several streams is at serious risk. This place is in Russell Township just outside the city of Ottawa in and around a former shale quarry, which is now a lake. Streams and springs rise up on the hill around the lake and drain into the Castor River, which drains into the South Nation and then the Ottawa. Species at Risk at the site include Bobolinks, Cooper’s Hawks, 10 species of amphibians (some at risk and some less so, although all amphibians have survival problems now), snapping and probably other turtles, Eastern Meadowlarks, Butternuts, rare Liverworts, several Mollusc species (snails), trees of increasing rarity, Orchids, and mosses, lichens and fungi. It is an important migration stopover point–at times hosting tens of thousands of birds at once.
That site is also the proposed site of a mega-landfill, which would be owned and run by Taggart Miller Environmental Services and called the Capital Region Resource Recovery Centre (CRRRC.ca). Taggarts own some of Ottawa’s biggest construction companies and Miller owns waste and construction companies in southern Ontario. They proposed to drain the 40-ac lake, fill it with rock and soil, blast a bigger hole beside it, and strip the site (which is between 200 and 470 ac, depending on if they exercise options on neighbouring farmland or not). The surrounding communities have been fighting the proposal for over two years. A few days before Christmas the Ontario Ministry of the Environment approved Taggart Miller’s Terms of Reference, even though serious problems with the vague, misleading document were clearly pointed out to the ministry by the community, which had completed their own scientific studies.
Last summer Taggart Miller added a second proposed site, and they now claim it is “preferred” over the Russell Township site (although nothing in the Terms of Reference promises the plans for Russell will be abandoned if they hit a snag with Site 2). The second site is just inside the City of Ottawa boundary on a forested wetland with patches of peat bog. It is set in the most highly unstable type of Leda Clay and is a little ways upstream from the supposedly protected Mer Bleue Bog, an officially recognized Wetland of International Importance and home to many species at risk including endangered species. The Bearbrook, which has unique chemistry would be contaminated by a landfill at that site, and the Bearbrook also flows into the South Nation which is a tributary to the Ottawa.
Both sites are important habitat and homes for SARs and both sites could be bulldozed, drained and piled with mountains of toxic garbage if Taggart Miller gets their way. Besides the obvious threats posed to surface waters by half a million tonnes of waste annually, plus even more contaminated soil piled in sensitive headwaters, both sites also pose serious threats to groundwater including the crucial Vars-Winchester esker aquifer, to the South Nation watershed area in general, to the historic communities and to dozens of nearby farms including dairy, specialty, organic, market garden, and other livestock operations. Villages, schools and sports facilities are nearby and the resulting air pollution would be dangerous to young minds and bodies.
However, this fight is about more than a thousand acres of waste. It is about the shameful process and actions of the MOE and government of Ontario. We must change the way landfills are sited. We must change the way waste is disposed of. As long as private landfills continue to be greenlighted by the ministry and as long as they continue to be wildly lucrative businesses nothing will change. Only when no new landfills are allowed and only when the MOE is brought to heel will Ontario adopt a waste management strategy. A small group of us within the wider community are dedicated to making that change happen. It is time for producer responsibility, reduction of packaging, restrictions on dumping, regulations for use of recycled material within new products, and other measures which we are drawing up. Can you help us?
Taggart Miller is holding two open houses next week.
DATE: Monday, February 25
TIME: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
LOCATION: Carlsbad Springs Community Centre, 6020 Eighth Line Road, Carlsbad Springs
DIRECTIONS: From downtown Ottawa
Ottawa take Queensway east to Boundary Road exit, go north (left) on
Boundary to intersection of Russell Road in village of Carlsbad Springs,
then go west (left) on Eighth Line Road out of a town a bit and there
is a nice new community centre on left side.
DATE: Wednesday, February 27
TIME: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
LOCATION: Russell Arena, 1084 Concession St., Russell
From downtown Ottawa take Queensway east to Boundary Road exit, go
south (right) on Boundary to intersection with Craig/Victoria Streets at
four way stop. Turn east (left) follow Craig into Russell village, turn
left at three-way stop on Concession and arena parking lot is on your
Please write to the Minister of Environment Jim Bradley (firstname.lastname@example.org), or the new Premier, Kathleen Wynne (email@example.com ) to let them know how you feel about this. We have been working hard and fighting hard but our biggest weakness is communications. We need to get the message out to the broader community that new landfills should not be allowed–and they should never, ever be considered for pristine sites!