Zorra Council approves motion promoted by Walker Industries.
Opens door for industry to challenge hard-fought landfill approval legislation.
January 20, 2021
Walker Industries is lobbying Ontario Government to remove adjacent municipality approval of new landfills.
Mayor Ryan and his Council use language very similar to Walker's to justify their vote.
And, they seem to have convinced Zorra Township's elected officials to support their cause.
On January 20, 2021, Zorra Council unanimously passed a Walker-promoted resolution that calls for legislative changes that would make it EASIER to get a LANDFILL in ZORRA.
The resolution demands the Government of Ontario change Bill 197 Section 6 - the legislation that provides local municipalities the right to approve new landfills and adjacent municipalities the same rights ... if the landfill is within 3.5 km of their border.
According to the Ontario Waste Management Association, Mike Watt, who runs Walker Industries "is actively trying to convince the province and municipalities that it is a bad idea to grant adjacent municipalities the right to object to a decision in someone else’s jurisdiction.
“Most municipalities probably would not want adjacent jurisdictions to have that authority," Watt says. "So, we are spending time explaining what this legislation would mean for them."
He’s worried that if municipalities near host towns can disapprove a landfill project, other important infrastructure could be next.
“Landfills and quarries in particular are essential infrastructure and society would come to a halt without them,” he says, adding that if adjacent municipalities have veto power, no private company will likely invest in new landfills.
Watt adds that "the company has "never met any opposition to the project in Zorra".
As the company never held any public meetings in Zorra and has its management office in Ingersoll, one can understand why. Walker's plan all along was to keep a low profile in Zorra --- and up until now, it has succeeded.
Marcus Ryan sits quietly while Councillor Mitchell promotes the benefits of Walker proposal to rationalize his support of the resolution. He also parrots the language of the waste industry that somehow this is a "dangerous precedent". (click the "sound on" button , lower right)
Mayor Ryan "fully supportive" of resolution that could make it easier for Walker to get its landfill proposal approved.
After the unanimous vote on January 20, Mayor Ryan and Zorra Township make no mention of it. Usually Mayor Ryan tweets about important municipal issues. Why the low-profile approach? (click the "sound on" button , lower right)
This is why long-time Zorra resident and business owner, Max Kirby, felt forced to form the
"Zorra Council needs to know that the people of Zorra don't want this dump in our town. It's not worth the risk today or for future generations. If we keep quiet, Council may just vote in favour of Walker's agenda, again.
Mayor Ryan will tell you that his support of the resolution has nothing to do with Walker's proposal.
In a March 30th media release, Ryan said:
“Zorra did not pass a motion that appears to favour dumps. It has always been Zorra’s position that host municipalities, and only the host, should have the right. This is not new. I have said this publicly. I have said this to local politicians. I have said this to our MPP. I have said this to the Minister of the Environment.”
At the April 21st meeting of Zorra Council:
Oxford People Against the Landfill (OPAL) presented its case for Mayor Ryan and Zorra Council to reverse their decision. Council unanimously voted against OPAL's motion and affirmed their support for their previous decision. Ryan's mind was made up before he even heard the presentation. "This Council gave very careful consideration to Bill 197. I know I did. It is unlikely that you are going to get re-consideration of that today."
Mayor Ryan responds to to Max Kirby's Village Voice letter, May 3, 2021:
"We (Zorra Council) are aware that Ontario's Waste Management Industry and Walker Environmental Group are promoting passage of that change to Bill 197, but Zorra's reason's for passing it are not the same as theirs."
This is Mayor Ryan's first public admission that Zorra Council shares the same goal as the waste industry and Walker. It comes close to 5 months after Zorra passed the motion that Walker is promoting, and only after Max Kirby demand a response from Council in the May issue of the Village Voice (click on link to read Kirby's Letter, pg7).
Mayor Ryan reminded Kirby, however, that Council has "been as transparent and engaged on this issue as possible."
"I would refer you to our open Council meetings... our many press releases of this issue... the 'backgrounder' we release explaining the issue in general in great detail, my many local media interviews, my many social media posts, my monthly blog, and column in the Village Voice."
Yet... not one of these "many" public statements make any mention of the motion Zorra passed on January 20th, nor that Walker and the waste industry are behind it.
THE RESIDENTS OF ZORRA NEED TO KNOW THIS.
YET, THE INFORMATION WAS KEPT QUIET.
This is is what our Mayor call's transparency?
The passing of Bill 197 Section 6 in 2020 effectively ended the possibility that Walker Industries' proposal to bring 17,000,000 tonnes of industrial waste into our communities would ever get approved All that was left to do was for the council of either Zorra, Southwest Oxford, or Ingersoll to vote against the Walker proposal.
By passing this resolution at your January 21st Council meeting, Zorra Council effectively re-opened the debate.
If Zorra Council is opposed to a giant landfill for Ontario’s garbage, why on earth did Mayor Ryan and Zorra Council pass Walker’s resolution that would undo everything that has been achieved that would stop this project?
Mayor Ryan will tell you its about the "principle of local autonomy" - and that even may be true.
BUT WHY RISK HAVING WALKER'S PROPOSAL APPROVED AND 17 MILLION TONNES OF INDUSTRIAL WASTE BROUGHT TO OUR COMMUNITY ... JUST TO MAKE A POLITICAL POINT?
If this was a debate about hen houses, Zorra Council would tell you they are very "pro-chicken".
But in reality, they'd just be doing what the foxes wanted.
So, let’s say an egg farmer has designed a new hen house that makes it harder for foxes to get inside. The foxes, of course, are upset. Being sly creatures, they hatch a plan.
The foxes send a Motion to Council demanding changes to the farmer’s new design. While Zorra Council knows the Motion is sponsored by the foxes, it immediately passes it anyway - because the motion says that the design of the hen house must change… “to protect the rights of the chickens".
The farmer says to council, “but these changes, it will make it easier for the foxes to get in. All my hens, their eggs, the foxes will be able to eat them all.”
To which Mayor Ryan and Council reply, “We have always been pro-chicken. As the motion states, chickens have a right to fresh air and sunshine. Therefore, the doors and windows of all hen houses must be made larger and remain open at all times.”
The farmer is dismayed. “Can’t you see,” the farmer says, “this is exactly what the foxes want?”
To which Mayor Ryan responds, “Yes. We are aware the foxes are promoting similar changes to hen house design and operations, but Zorra’s reasons for passing it are not the same as theirs.”
Tell Mayor Ryan and his Councillors to stop playing politics with Zorra's future.
Council needs to hear from you
Staying quiet gives Council permission to vote in favour of hosting Ontario's largest landfill site - just as they quietly voted for Walker's motion in January.
Zorra Citizens Against the Landfill
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