Let’s get one thing straight: In speaking only for myself and not the full Council I don’t mind people expressing their opinions or raising their concerns in a peaceful, respectful way but when people start demanding or threatening that’s different. Just so everyone knows I’m not scared of bullies nor am I intimidated by bullies. I won’t be swayed by bullies in my decision making. Whatever decision I make regarding the Kearns Disintegration System at the dump site will be made because I believe it is in the best interest of the community not because someone threatened to bring people in from the outside or threatened to shut down the band administration building.
There’s no two ways about it, Six Nations has a garbage crisis. The dump site that was to sustain our community for 40 years has only lasted 20 years. I believe the Council and Community Planners back then never anticipated a thriving tobacco industry, farming, manufacture and retail which I believe has contributed significantly to our garbage crisis. One can only imagine for example the daily and weekly amount of garbage generated by GRE and other large manufacturing plants.
Some people at the recent community meeting want the Kearns Disintegrator System tested for air quality even though it’s only an interim machine. But Council has agreed to have testing done on the interim machine. Council also fully intends to conduct significant tests on the new machine when or if one is purchased.
Other people including Robin Maracle who according to reports recently led the effort to shut down Kearn’s machine and who is the mother-in-law of Bill Warner one of the owners of AW Recycling want Kearn’s machine shut down permanently. A few months back Council agreed to let AW Recycling which is a privately owned and operated business, take over the recycling depot at the dump site. In fact Council pays the tipping fees while AW Recycling keeps the profits.
Recently AW Recycling presented a proposal to Council and at the community meeting highlighting three levels of expansion. The third level of expansion which is a full-fledged up to date recycling operation would cost upward of $750,000. There are problems with this proposal. Firstly, while AW Recycling has greatly increased the community’s recycling I believe it will take a number of years before the community is 100 per cent recycling. If the Kearns machine is shut down what are we to do with peoples’ garbage in the interim? Secondly, there is garbage that can’t be recycled so we will still need some way to dispose of this garbage.
The people who want Kearn’s machine shut down permanently want Council to give money to AW Recycling so they can expand their operations rather then put money into Kearns’ machine. But Council cannot give public money to a private business to expand. We already have a private business owner saying that if Council gives money to AW Recycling to expand its business he will put in a proposal to Council for money to expand his business. And how can Council say yes to one business owner and no to other business owners. In my mind if Council chooses to invest heavily in the recycling technology then it would have to be a community-owned business operated by Public Works.
Then there are people who support Council trucking our garbage off the territory at a cost per bag to the homeowner or renter. Six Nations Public Work’s Director estimated it would cost about $5 per bag. I believe this would create a financial hardship for our elderly and sole-support parents and low income families. I’m afraid the people who can’t afford to pay or who simply don’t want to and won’t pay will start burning garbage in their backyard.
People have an Air Quality concern about Kearn’s machine but seem to have little to no concern about dumping garbage in the ground. In my research I’ve learned that dump sites pollute the air with methane, H2S, volatile organic compounds and a host of other noxious and offensive substances, as well as pollute our ground water and soils with a plethora of disease-causing toxins, the migration of which ultimately becomes uncontrollable. Furthermore our dump site emits up to 60 more greenhouse gasses (GHG) than that emitted on a tonne-for-tonne basis by the thermal disintegration process which is the technology (Kearns’ machine) being currently used at the dump site. So any garbage disposal system is no good for the environment but getting rid of garbage is a necessary evil.
So where do we go from here? Whether Council purchases Kearns’ machine will all depend on the negotiations currently under way. I believe the Kearns Machine coupled with recycling is the best option for our community. I fully support Council purchasing Kearns’ new machine and I supported the start-up of Kearns’ machine after the recent protest, but alas I’m only one vote at the table.
Councillor Helen Miller