DC ends its legal action

With considerable regret DurhamCLEAR is ending its legal action against the garbage incinerator in Courtice. The hearing which had been scheduled for July 17 will not take place.

While we were fairly confident we could win the appeal on security of costs and move on, the legal process was dragging on so slowly that the incinerator would be built before we ever got a decision on the main motion. Although judges are supposed to be immune to such arguments, it was a growing concern whether a judge would turn back a $300 million project which was substantially completed.

The other issue weighing us down was money. Our dinner/dance fundraiser last month at the Rickard complex raised several thousand dollars - but not enough to cover outstanding legal bills.

Money is really tight in the current economic environment, and with the incinerator under construction, it is getting increasingly difficult to motivate people to dig into their pockets.

Councillors bury their heads in the sand

The June 6th Regional Council meeting was a disappointment.

In spite of clear evidence that waste volumes were declining, councillors chose to attack the messengers rather than deal with the problem.

On the agenda was a motion for a debenture, the bulk of which would go to paying for the incinerator. Staff were painting this as urgent but delegations from Linda Gasser and Louis Bertrand pointed out that interest rates have been stable for a long period and were likely to stay low for a long period, hence, no urgency.

The prevailing opinion among councillors ever since Chair Anderson signed the contract with Covanta was that breaking the contract would be hpelessly expensive and they regularly asked for more definitive costs. They were always stonewalled.

However, as it turns out, the costs are all spelled out in the contract in easy to read English. Below is Article 25 of the contract which clearly states that Region can cancel at any time for any reason.

Article 27 then goes on to spell out the terms.

The costs would be basically the amount of money already spent. As the payment schedule is front end loaded, those costs would likely be less than what has already been paid which is currently $50 million - a bargain compared with spending $280 million finishing a facility that could only operate by burning potentially recyclable waste.

There are no penalty clauses. Nevertheless, councillors wanted to believe that the contract contained poison pills and over-the-top penalties ... and voted accordingly.

Councillors showed an inability to look at a legal document for what it actually said, even when shown them on a 10 ft high screen and provided in advance by email. Instead they preferred to believe the self-serving position of staff.

Why the incinerator is doomed to be an albatross

A chart was released by the Works Department at the March Waste Management Advisory Committee (WMAC) meeting which revealed that waste volumes have actually been declining for the last 5+ years and that the Region is already de-emphasizing recycling in order to ensure that there will be sufficient waste to run the incinerator when it fires up in 2014.

Total waste per capita has dropped 14% in 5 years. 

  • 2006 408 Kg
  • 2011 353 Kg

Here is a graph derived from the Region's numbers compared with the numbers in the Deloitte Business Plan prepared for Council in 2008. This business plan (like all business plans) was intended to show Council that the incinerator made good economic sense.

However 4 years later it is clear from the graph that their projections were way off and the rosy predictions of 70% diversion by 2022 were but a pipe dream.

Diversion in 2011 was only 53% while the Deloitte Business Plan projected 60% for last year. The Golder report commissioned by Durham Council in 2009 mapped out in detail with costing how Durham could have achieved 63.7% lasat year.

While it is difficult to draw long term conclusions from 5 years of numbers (2006-11), if you draw a line forward from the real (blue) points to 2022, you find a waste gap of about 150,000 tonnes.

The problem is that the Region has signed a contract to supply a minimum of 100,000 tonnes to the incinerator.

Because Durham has limited itself to only 2 waste options (recycle/compost and burn), if total waste is dropping then a larger and larger percentage will end up in the incinerator and less in the recycle stream. This is exactly opposite to the commitments made during the EA that the incinerator would 'drive' recycling and 'never' cut into it.

We didn't believe them then and we don't believe them now.

Successful Fundraiser

On Saturday, May 26, DurhamCLEAR held a successful Dinner/Dance at the Garnet Rickard Complex. Approximately 100 enthusiastic supporters attended.

The event was a  zero-waste event - designed as a demonstration that zero-waste was achievable - everything was reusable, recyclable or compostable.

The low ecological impact theme was carried forward by our keynote speaker, Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario, who came to Bowmanville by GO Train in order to keep his carbon footprint to a minimum.

Volunteers were an essential part of our success. Tracy Leadbetter organized the kitchen and serving and was assisted by: Kitchen: Keri Davey, Michelle Payne, Jeff Mariani, Tracey Ali, Donna Moriarty, Franca de Kever; Servers: Riley Kettner, Keith Mayhew-Hammond, Tracey Ali, Nicole Cabral, Morgaine van Loon. Emerald Hawkley helped out with the table dressing.

Libby Racansky helped greet people as they arrived and checked their names off. Bert Kortekaas, Pam Callus, Jim Osborne, Kim Neal and Susann Anderson also contributed in various capacities.

Music was provided by guitarist Alfie Latanski, and Hubertus de Kever was the DJ.

Corporate donations were received from

Black Out Speak Out

If you visited DurhamCLEAR.ca or our other website DontGetBurned.org on june 4, you will have found the site  was balcked out. We were participating in a protest campaign, involving hundreds of environmental websites, against the Harper Conservative government's omnibus budget bill.

Our websites were blacked in support of numerous national and local environmental sites such as Ecojustice, Environmental Defence, the Sierra Club of Canada, the David Suzuki Foundation, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, Nature Canada and the Pembina Institute.

The protest is over the unprecedented deconstruction of Canada's environmental laws by the Harper government. Much of this deconstruction was buried in the recent budget bill - Bill C-38, for which debate was then limited to a few days.

Great day at Maplefest

Great weather and a new setup all contributed to a successful day at Maplefest in Downtown Bowmanville. Pam had obtained some seedling white sprue trees which were given to people who contributed more than $5. This went over very well and we took in more than $350.

We still have some trees left and if you would like a few give Doug a call at 905-668-5040. These are healthy rooted seedlings from a tree farm in Pontypool. The root and a bit of soil are enclosed in small plastic bag. We need to find homes for these soon before thay deteriorate.

Our new tent canopy also contributed to the overall professional presentation. Although it was not an issue this weekend, it also provided some shelter from wind and sun.

Hundreds of flyers were handed out and many, many people were encouraging us to keep up the fight.

Pitch-In Week Clean Up

DurhamCLEAR is doing its part to clean up the litter that has accumulated in the ditches and along the roadways during the winter months

Saturday, April 28, 9am - meet at Courtice Community Complex

plan for about two hours

please invite/bring family members and friends

if you have a set of long 'pincers', they are helpful to pick up the garbage

The Covanta job fair that wasn't

In an effort to improve its public relations after a very public debacle when it it backed away from its oft repeated commitment to hire local and hire union, Covanta held a 'job fair' at the Courtice Community Centre on the morning of April 17.

The trouble was there weren't any jobs. The event was actually for suppliers only.

People who showed up looking for jobs were just turned away.

Penny Drive

The federal government may not want your pennies but we do.

Bring them to our booth at Maple Fest (May 5th, Downtown Bowmanville) or bring them to our dinner dance fundraiser on May 26.

We are working on other drop-off or pickup arrangements. These will be broadcast in our newsletter and here on this site.

"KEEP IT CLEAN" fundraising dinner May 26

KeepitClean fundraising dinner

 DOWNLOAD a pdf FLYER here of the above information.
It is a 2-sided flyer printable in black and white on standard letter size paper.

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