Bill 197 may prevent any new landfill site construction in Ontario.
20 Acts are affected by the Bill introduced earlier this week. Although the Bill is entitled the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, and some of the text addresses the challenges brought about by the pandemic, many of the proposed changes were on the Ford government agenda prior to COVID-19.
One of the most significant changes would allow municipalities the right to veto the creation of new landfills - not only within their own borders but if the intended location under 3.5 km away from their border within a neighboring municipality.
Amendments to the ESAA included in the bill would expand proponent requirements to include Municipal support for landfill site establishment. Not only would future landfills be subject to this new requirement, the new criteria would apply to sites currently undergoing the environmental assessment process. The proposed changes apply only to landfills, rather than waste management facilities based on the definition of "landfilling site" (defined as a waste disposal site where landfilling occurs). No consultations on this process were performed prior to the introduction of Bill 197/
Ontario's landfill capacity is already reaching concerning levels. The OWMA (Ontario Waste Management Association) reports that Ontario's landfills will reach capacity by 2032. Ontario currently exports around 30% of its waste to landfill sites in Michigan and New York. If those exports cease for any reason, Ontario's capacity would be exhausted by 2028.
The potential delays involved in not only satisfying provincial requirements, but municipalities' criteria are unlikely to relieve this increasingly urgent waste disposal crisis. The veto power effectively guarantees landfill development will come to a halt.