According to the Globe & Mail newspaper, Gordon McGuinty, representing a consortium that seeks to landfill Toronto’s waste residue in the worked-out Adams Mine near Kirkland Lake, Ontario, is suing the Ontario government for $301-million, claiming the provincial government failed to complete a sale of land that the Progressive Conservative government signed last February.
The land adjacent to the abandoned mine is owned by the Ministry of Natural Resources and is key to the proposal to use the pit as a waste-disposal site.
McGuinty has promoted the project for 14 years and vows he’ll go ahead with the landfill despite any hurdles put in his way by governments and local residents.
"We’ve done everything absolutely the way every statute and piece of legislation indicates. We’re going to move ahead, subject to all of our little roadblocks, and build that landfill," Mr. McGuinty said in an interview with The Globe and Mail.
In its statement of claim the consortium (now known as Adams Mine Rail Haul) calls on the courts to force the government to turn over the land it thought it had bought and to award damages.
Mr. McGuinty, who is a second cousin of the new Premier Dalton McGuinty, said part of his problems with the government arose after he had restructured his ownership group.
"I have a limited partnership now with 10 players in different companies involved and one of those happened to be the Cortellucci group," McGuinty said. Mario Cortellucci has long been involved in fundraising for the Progressive Conservatives. His name has been linked to several land deals with the province that have been questioned in the legislature.
The landfill project and the sale of the land have been opposed by certain area residents, especially farmers in an area to the south known as the Clay Belt.
According to the claim (dated October 9), the Ministry of Natural Resources offered to sell land essential to the project to Adams Mine Rail Haul on February 17. Mr. McGuinty’s claim seeks $250-million to cover expenses incurred to date in the attempt to turn the abandoned mine into a waste-disposal site as well as the loss of future profits.
The claim seeks another $50-million in damages (the estimated commercial value of biogas produced from the proposed dump) and punitive damages of $1-million.
Gerry Ouellette, the Conservative MPP for Oshawa who was Minister of Natural Resources at the time, said the negotiations were conducted by the ministry’s local offices and he was not involved.
"It’s the local district offices that do the negotiations, not the ministry, not the minister," he said.
On April 11, Adams Mine Rail Haul accepted the offer and paid for the land with a certified cheque of $51,360.
The statement adds, "The defendant [the Ontario government] confirmed on May 6, 2003, that all documents required to transfer good title in the lands to the plaintiff [Adams Mine Rail Haul] had been received and were satisfactory." The government promised it "would register the necessary documentation to complete the transaction."
That transfer has not been made, according to the claim.
"[Adams Mine Rail Haul] contends that [the government’s] failure to transfer the lands resulted from political interference in June of 2003 from opposition members of the legislature and that [the government] was influenced by such interference in not completing the transaction," it says.
The opposition’s attack on the possible sale of the land last spring was led by David Ramsay, Liberal MPP for Timiskaming-Cochrane, which includes the Adams Mine and the areas that fear toxic waste from a dump would pollute land and water supplies.
Mr. Ramsay was re-elected on Oct. 2 — his sixth consecutive election victory — on a platform that promised the Adams Mine would never be used as a landfill.
He’s now Minister of Natural Resources in the Liberal cabinet. He refused to comment on the future of the proposal, citing the fact that the matter is now before the courts. On Wednesday, he promised he would resign from cabinet if it became a dump.
Adds Gordon McGuinty, "We’ve got three million tonnes [of garbage] going to Michigan annually. We can only take about a million tonnes a year [at Adams Mine]. We’re doing this government and everybody a favor by putting our money up and building a landfill," he said.