First Nations Launch Court Action Over Toronto Landfill
TORONTO IMMEDIATE RELEASE–(Jan. 22, 2007) – The Oneida Nation of the Thames, supported by the Chippewas of the Thames and Munsee-Deleware Nation are initiating a court action to thwart the proposed sale of the Green Lane landfill site to the City of Toronto. The sale, and a recent environmental Certificate of Approval paves the way to the diversion of Toronto garbage to Green Lane and into the traditional territory of the Anishinabek, Oneida and Deleware Nations.
These three First Nations represent all First Nations interests in the London area, which includes the site of the Green Lane landfill. These First Nations, with the support of the Union of Ontario Indians and the Chiefs of Ontario will oppose any action that may lead to the directing Toronto’s garbage to First Nations’ traditional territory.Grand Council Chief John Beaucage states: “The sale of the Green Lane landfill site represents a call to battle for our people. We will not tolerate such a threat to our lands and waters. The Anishinabek Nation unequivocally supports this action and will take whatever measures necessary to protect the traditional territory of the Anishinabek Nation.”
“We have tried, through the “good neighbor” concept proposed by Mayor Miller in reaching some sort of Agreement on how to address our concerns, but the Mayor continues to claim that the City of Toronto has no such obligation to meet with us,” stated Chief Randall Phillips of the Oneida Nation of the Thames. “Our elected Council sees no other alternative but to ask the Court to intervene. We have some very serious concerns regarding the changes made in the new Certificate of Approval that will allow changes to the current operating conditions. Our actions today are intended to challenge the validity of that Certificate of Approval.”
“Court papers have been filed, and should be served on the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto today,” said Chief Kelly Riley of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. “The proposal to divert Toronto’s garbage should not be allowed as Green Lane is located very close to Oneida and is located across the Thames River from Chippewa and Muncey.”
Both the City of Toronto and the provincial government have been taken to task over their lack of consultation with the affected First Nations.
“It is frustrating to always be the ball in these political tennis matches. Neither the Government of Ontario or the City of Toronto want to acknowledge their Constitutional obligations to consult, accommodate and/or compensate First Nations when Rights are being threaten,” said Chief Phillips.
The application for judicial review cites that the City of Toronto and the Government of Ontario failed to adequately consult with and accommodate the interests of the local First Nation with regard to the sale, and the proposed terms and conditions of the Certificate of Approval. The 2006 Certificate of Approval, issued by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, enabling the former owner to increase the volume of refuse dramatically. According to the City of Toronto: “The purchase provides the city with a reliable and environmentally sound landfill, giving the city options for short and long term waste disposal. With an aggressive diversion plan, the purchase provides Toronto with a disposal capacity of 13 million tonnes for a minimum of 15 years.” To date the City of Toronto has been making use of a landfill in the State of Michigan.
A deeper issue concerning the area Chiefs is that each of the three First Nations draw their drinking water from an aquifer which is located under the Thames River.
“There are also significant concern for the health of our people, our land and the quality of our water,” said Chief Riley.
The Right to survive in a clean and healthy environment must be considered a fundamental Human Right, and if there is threat to that Right, remedies to limit, reduce and/or eliminate that threat should be discussed in detail. Surely the citizens of Toronto and Ontario would agree with that,” added Chief Phillips.
First Nation concern has been strong and varied and the leadership have taken action as a result of this growing, grassroots concern.
“Band members have heard media reports alleging that medical waste has been detected in some of those truckloads headed into Michigan. I have some knowledge based on people that work within this particular industry that the dumping of hazardous materials has occurred in the past, added Chief Riley.
The Green Lane Landfill Site is located in Part of Lots 21, 22 and 23, Concession III, north of Highway 401, in Southwold Township, County of Elgin. southwest of the City of London.
The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians (UOI) as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 42-member First Nations across Ontario . The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.
/For further information: Chief Kelly Riley (519) 289-5555; Chief Randall Phillips (519) 652-3244/
IN: ENVIRONMENT, HEALTH, MEDIA, POLITICS, SOCIAL
Bob Goulais, Executive Assistant to the Grand Council Chief
Primary Phone: 705-497-9127 ext. 2245
Secondary Phone: 705-498-5250