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Ontario diversion targets under fire

According to a CBC news report, critics say Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberal government might not be able ...


According to a CBC news report, critics say Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government might not be able to keep its promise to divert 60 per cent of the province’s garbage from landfill by 2008.

With only a bit more than three years to go, the province is just a little over half way to its diversion target.

Gord Perks of the Toronto Environmental Alliance says the government’s programs are in disarray, making the 60-per-cent goal appear out of reach.

"I can’t name a single initiative the government of Ontario has taken since the election that’s helping them get there," he was quoted.

Perks pointed to the lack of promised programs to recycle tires and electronic equipment, as well as to re-refine oil.

Pat Vanini, the executive director of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), thinks the only way the government will be able to meet its goal is to allow more incineration, beyond the one plant that now operates in Peel Region.

"There are some incineration programs in Europe that we believe require a lot more analysis, and [we can] take a look at how we can make them work in Ontario," she said.

Ontario’s previous environment minister had concerns over the safety of incineration, and the person currently holding the post, MPP Laurel Broten, says she’s still being briefed on the issues.

Vanini said the government is also going to have to get serious about diverting organics if it wants to keep its election promise. But, she says, the province has not given any of her member municipalities money to build the expensive composting facilities that are needed to handle such waste. Cities and towns can’t afford to go it alone, she says.

"The only place municipal governments can really get the bulk of their revenue is through property taxes, and property taxes in Ontario are right now the highest in Canada," Vanini says.

She also pointed out that the 60-per-cent diversion goal is the McGuinty government’s target, not a target set by the municipalities themselves.

The plan to keep a higher percentage of garbage out of landfill sites has taken on more urgency as Michigan politicians continue to seek ways to block trucks carrying 1.1 million tonnes of garbage from Toronto to that state’s landfill sites each year. If those efforts succeed, Toronto would have to find another place to dump its nonrecyclable waste.


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