Toronto aims to clean up waste management plans
TORONTO - One day after Toronto agreed to a C$1 billion plan to dump its garbage in an abandoned mine site in northern Ontario, Canadas largest city has vowed to clean up its act by diverting more of its waste to recycling and composting.
After a week of heated debate and sometimes rowdy protests, Toronto city council approved an agreement on Wednesday with Rail Cycle North to ship close to one million tonnes of garbage a year, starting in 2002, to the Adams Mine site near Kirkland Lake, Ontario, about 600 kilometres north of Toronto.
Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman told Reuters yesterday that he was not happy with the Adams Mine deal, but said it would give the city enough flexibility to reduce its disposable waste and redirect it to diversion and emerging technologies.
"I am not happy, but there is no choice," he said, adding: "The contract says that we dont have to put (the waste) into the mine and there is no charge at all if we divert it."
Councilor Jack Layton thinks Toronto should cancel the Adams Mine deal and follow a more environmentally friendly path shown by other Canadian, European or U.S. cities.
"We could create a lot more jobs if we did recycling and composting systems like they have in Edmonton and Halifax," he told Reuters.
Layton and a group of other councilors have proposed that Toronto divert as much as 78 per cent of its 933,000 tonnes of annual waste by the year 2007. The strategy would be to use diverse methods such as composting with anaerobic bacteria that could create electricity and heating as byproducts.
"We believe this can be done at almost the same cost as landfill, but its environmentally so much better that we think Torontonians are going to support it," he said.
With a current diversion rate of 25 per cent, the city of 2.4 million has "one of the worst (records among) large cities in the developed world," Layton said. European countries such as Germany are much more advanced with composting and recycling systems and are phasing out landfills and incineration methods of waste disposal, he said.
Laytons proposal will be examined by city councilors, but the works committee chairman Bill Saundercook judged it "unrealistic", saying the cost was prohibitive and would result in tax increases.
City council would likely favour a more cautious proposal by the mayor, aimed at a 50 per cent diversion rate by 2006 and a 75 per cent rate by 2010, he said.
Story by Julie Remy
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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