Much like when your cat proudly leaves the tattered remains of its capture on your front stoop, South Dundas has received a most unwelcome gift from WSP.
The landfill report delivered to council Tues., April 2 delivered a blow by blow account of how generations of mismanagement, laziness, disregard and outright ignorance have left a municipality with a toxic and financially draining mess on their hands.
It is hardly surprising and it is hardly unique.
Councillor Lloyd Wells appropriately pointed out that the situation in South Dundas can, and most likely will, repeat itself in neighbouring municipalities. North Dundas is also quickly running out of room, time and options for their own waste disposal site.
It begs the question, should a regional mega-dump be considered for all of SD&G?
That idea will most definitely rally the most docile residents to take up arms and rattle their sabers at local politicians, consultants or advisors that dare suggest their backyard be the site of such a facility. It’s the age-old “not in my backyard” argument and it’s on par with the “warm is good, cold is bad” line of thinking that so often is muttered by slack-jawed Facebook warriors denying climate change.
There is no place for that kind of talk in this discussion. No, this is a conversation meant for those that are up for the challenge and courageous enough to not only take ownership of their own behaviour, but to take on the mistakes committed by those in the past.
Years ago, when gravel pits and quarries were exhausted, we simply used some of these locations as a dumping site, or landfill. A lot of these sites were located near or on wetlands as they were considered marginal or mostly worthless land.
Engineering to contain contaminants that would ultimately pool at the bottom wasn’t yet available or even understood.
The “out of sight, out of mind” policy has led us to out of space and out of time. Numerous politicians have known about the issue, but side-stepped it or completely ignored it, knowing the explosiveness of dealing with such an unpleasant issue.
Waste disposal sites and those that operate them for profit, and there are many, have come to accept a truth that we as the general public cannot – we are lazy and wasteful.
Through our accelerating consumer habits, we have put a price on garbage and ultimately the health of our environment, drinking water and communities.
It is much easier and cheaper to simply replace a product today than to repair or repurpose it.
The most damning statement came from Russell Chown, senior environmental geoscientist for WSP, said, “People are people. They’re going to do what people do. Until you get to the point where there are financial consequences that’s when people finally start to change in how they handle their waste.”
There is no shortcut here. Burning waste, processing the gas, mining it and creating a new waste disposal site all comes with its own set of long-term problems. A waste disposal site is a symptom of our inability to understand the universal truth that our actions have consequences.
We must treat the problem not the symptom.
If there is indeed a public consultation process on what to do going forward in South Dundas, summon your courage and quell the urge to simply point fingers and shove the problem into someone else’s corner.
It is a chance to innovate, to be progressive and to fully accept the fact that our habits today will shape the state of the world tomorrow.
All the evidence that you need that the past influences the future, is laying in large, festering mountains of toxic indifference.
Pick it up and own it.