This letter responds to the letter published under the name of Mayor Brian Milne in The Banner paper on Jan. 10.
Southgate council recently decided they needed to hire a public relations (PR) firm to convince Southgate residents it was a good idea to sell industrial land in Dundalk to commercial waste disposal and processing firms.
When Southgate hired the same PR firm engaged by one of those same firms, they underscored a pattern that is evident in other choices Southgate has made since Milne’s election.
The decision shows no appreciation for the possibility the interests of Southgate citizens and those of waste industry developers may be different.
A second problem in governing assumptions — also evident in Milne’s letter — has compounded the first one. This is the failure (or refusal) to distinguish between the obligations of Southgate to look after its own waste disposal issues, and the role of Southgate to look after the waste disposal issues of other communities.
Residents who have been opposing the transformation of our township into a waste disposal and processing centre have not been protesting against the diversion of Southgate’s own waste stream to recycling.
They have been protesting against placing Dundalk and Southgate on the receiving end of a chain of environmental liability.
If other municipalities and businesses are willing to pay $100/tonne and more to get rid of wastes where these wastes were created, what does that tell you about the wisdom of receiving them for royalties of less than $1/tonne in Southgate?
The third problem in governing assumptions has to do with the scope of an electoral mandate. What many Southgate residents reject is the notion that being elected provides a licence to enact radical policies in the face of evident public opposition — when those policies remained unannounced during the election campaign, and when those policies will produce significant and irreversible change in the community as a place to work, live, study and play.
Milne’s letter indicates that over recent years, the community rejected a mega-dump and a waste-to-gasification scheme.
What was there then about those rejections gave Southgate council the notion they had a mandate to negotiate secret deals with private waste companies, and force Dundalk residents to accept new neighbours with plans to haul hundreds of tonnes per day of sewage sludge and chemically contaminated soil from other communities into ours?
In summary, the actions of Southgate council during Milne’s term make sense if you embrace these three assumptions:
1) There is no difference between the interests of private waste-industry operators and those of the citizens of Southgate.
2) There is no difference between the obligation of Southgate to look after the disposal of its own wastes and the disposal of wastes from other communities.
3) There is no difference between the strength of an electoral mandate for policies that were announced prior to an election and the strength of an electoral mandate for policies that were announced after it.
The problem is … these assumptions don’t make sense.
Glen Drummond, on behalf of the Southgate Public Interest Research Group