With Canada’s largest city now dumping its garbage in nearby Elgin County, London’s mayor plans to call his Toronto counterpart to try to refocus the region’s trash-tinged optical nightmare. Joe Fontana says he’ll contact Mayor Rob Ford to propose teaming up on a trash-to-energy plan at Green Lane landfill, where as of last week Toronto began sending its garbage.
Beyond any environmental benefits, Fontana is partly motivated by a concern Toronto may view London — not far from its new garbage dump — as a trash bin.
“(We) could turn it into a joint effort on renewable energy,” Fontana said during the weekend as the first trucks of Toronto trash started arriving at Green Lane. “Turn it into a positive.
“That’s my approach, as opposed to being a dumping ground for Toronto.
“That’s not what I want for our city.”
Until last week, Toronto, long unable to handle its own trash, had been shipping truckloads daily to Michigan.
Three years ago, Toronto received provincial approval to buy the privately owned Green Lane landfill, about a five-minute drive from the Ford plant in Talbotville, for $200 million.
It could be home to Toronto trash for the next 20 years.
Fontana indicated he’s more than irked about having to deal with the optics of an issue — it was front-page news in the Toronto Sun last week — that he feels should have been blocked by the previous council.
What that council could have done differently is unclear, but Fontana took the former council to task nonetheless.
“It could have been beat had the leadership in place taken a more firm position,” he said, adding he raised the issue during his failed 2006 mayoral bid.
“But we lost that battle and now we’re dealing with the consequences.”
In 2000, Toronto city council had approved a $1-billion deal to truck its trash to an abandoned mine near Kirkland Lake, in northern Ontario. It sparked huge protests from environmentalists.
The deal fell apart, though, leading Toronto to start sending its garbage to Michigan — a setup that continued until last week.
If Toronto’s waste-diversion efforts, such as recycling and composting, continue keeping about half the waste out of trash bags, Green Lane could have enough space to accept its garbage for about two decades.
How Ford will respond to any Fontana proposal is unknown, but Fontana’s idea to invest in green-energy technology with Toronto is a unique one.
And he has some knowledge on the subject.
In addition to his work with Omniwatt, a solar-power company he’s often discussed publicly, Fontana sits on the board of a company called GPEC Global, which transforms waste into renewable energy.
“I was on the board, am on the board, but I just don’t have the time” as mayor to continue, so will leave the post, Fontana said.
Cutting-edge green technology is an idea worth considering for those worried about the London area’s image, he added.
“That would be seen in a much more positive light than being Toronto’s dumping ground.”
Fontana also said he plans to revive a sustainable energy council started by his predecessor, Anne Marie DeCicco-Best. He called renewable energy work one of London’s “strengths.”