Since February 2013 Lystek International has been shipping Toronto’s sewage waste – what’s generally known as “sludge” – to Dundalk, Ontario, to be processed into a “fertilizer” that is destined for farmlands in the region and beyond.
Aside from the fact that “sludge” is a toxic stew that includes pharmaceuticals and industrial waste, Dundalk sits at the headwaters of the Grand and Saugeen Rivers and at the top of the Haldimand Tract – land which was deeded in perpetuity by the British Crown to the “Mohawk Nation and such others of the Six Nation Indians” in 1784. Spreading such a “fertilizer” over Ontario’s highlands will ultimately lead to a run off and flowing downstream of the tens of thousands of unregulated chemicals that are to be found in “biosolids”.
Anticipating the public uproar that would (and did) ensue when Dundalk’s locals – not to mention the people of Six Nations – would catch wind of the Lystek project, Southgate has over the past 4 years opted for secrecy, deception, and doing away with any pretense of democratic process.
Southgate’s intentions began to emerge back in February 2009 when local Council notified the public of a meeting under the seemingly harmless pretense of addressing typos in the bylaws and other housekeeping issues. Instead, what they were intending was to shoehorn waste disposal and processing into a zone that only allows for “dry industry”.
The restrictions of the current zoning may have something to do with the fact that Dundalk’s “EcoPark” stands merely 350 meters away from a local elementary school and a daycare facility. The “EcoPark” is also in the middle of wetlands. But Southgate is now trying to change the zoning to retroactively comply with Lystek’s current operations as well as pave the way for more even more commercial waste processing projects.
In early 2012, community activists took action against council’s undemocratic maneuvers by mobilizing over a thousand signatures from concerned parties demanding an open public forum that would force council to answer to the public. To this day, that meeting has never happened.
After an unsatisfactory meeting with Southgate Council, Six Nations land defenders offered their support to initiate a blockade the next day at the “EcoPark” in April 2012, which received the support of activists from Six Nations, including the Six Nations Men’s Fire. The blockade was maintained for 108 days but was ultimately dismantled by an injunction that threatened arrests and charges for local residents maintaining the site.
At the height of the community mobilization in the summer of 2012, what was the largest political rally Dundalk has perhaps ever seen took to the streets on July 7 alongside supporters from Toronto and Six Nations, united alongside and under the Giant Two Row Wampum.
On the public relations front, Lystek countered with an October 2012 press release quoting Lonny Bomberry of Six Nations Council speaking to the “positive impact that Lystek technology can have for all communities and the environment.”
Meanwhile, the ongoing pressure and scrutiny that SPIRG’s “Truth Not Trash” campaign has brought upon local council has led to a complete ban on question period at Council. “Eliminating question period is hard proof that despite what Council and their PR firm says, they cannot and will not answer to their constituents and are dismantling democracy one step at a time,” James Cooke of SPIRG told Two Row Times.
The next major showdown in Dundalk is coming up this Wednesday, October 30. A mandatory public meeting is being held to address Southgate’s proposed zoning changes. The meeting was originally held in council chambers on August 21, but a turnout of upwards of 100 people forced Council to reconvene at a later date in a larger venue. “This is the biggest issue in Dundalk’s history, and they wanted to hold this meeting in a room that only accommodates 49 people,” Cooke told the Two Row Times.
According to Cooke, “Council has already laid out the ground rules in advance. They will not respond to any questions at the meeting. We apparently have to wait two weeks.”
SPIRG is inviting residents of Six Nations to attend the October 30 meeting concerning the ongoing developments on the Haldimand Tract.