UXBRIDGE: It was a family affair at council’s meeting on the evening of Monday, Sept. 23, as both MP Erin O’Toole, as well as his father, MPP John O’Toole, appeared before councillors.
Commercial fill operations were discussed by both O’Tooles, as Uxbridge continues to experience issues with heavy truck traffic, leading councillors to question the legitimacy of an airport expansion project current underway in Greenbank.
"It’s troubling when you see people being able to manipulate their way around something that we know will never happen. It will never be an airport. In my humble opinion, that’s not an aerodrome, it’s a landfill project," Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor said of the Greenbank Airport project. "It’s very disturbing to us, because we have no authority over it."
Regional Councillor Jack Ballinger, who has emerged as a watchdog for the township in regards to heavy trucks making their way through Uxbridge en route to Greenbank, expressed concerns over the level of oversight at the project.
"It’s wonder mountain out there now. At what time does the federal government step in and say ‘let’s see your plan?’" Councillor Ballinger inquired.
Erin O’Toole responded that he shares concerns over the site, and has been in contact with Transport Canada regarding the project.
"I share your healthy skepticism about the site. I have made inquires in Ottawa since being elected, and the owners have not yet contacted Transport Canada about an amendment to date," said Erin O’Toole. "If they’re using federal regulations to try and get around something, then we should change those regulations."
Mayor O’Connor concluded the discussion by asking Mr. O’Toole to inquire if anyone from Transport Canada has personally visited the site.
Meanwhile, John O’Toole provided a different perspective on the commercial fill debate, focusing on solutions to the large amounts of fill generated by large scale projects in Toronto.
"We’re being asked to be a dumping ground for Toronto, and there has to be a better solution than just dumping dirt in a hole. Out of sight, out of mind is for Toronto, but there has to be a better plan," said Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast.
Councillor Northeast went on to propose a toll road through the township for heavy truck traffic, and referenced that the problem has plagued Uxbridge residents for generations.
"I know it’s an old problem, but it’s still here, and it’s still a nuisance."
Mayor O’Connor agreed there are certain concessions that have to be made given that Uxbridge is such a hub for the aggregate industry, but balked at the amount of trucks that pass through township roadways everyday.
"We accept that there are 47 licensed pits here. But, the fact that we don’t want to accept is that we have all these trucks coming through with fill and going out with aggregate. It’s a double whammy," said Mayor O’Connor.
The Mayor went on the reference Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s crusade to bring billions of dollars in funding for subway expansion projects to his city, and wondered if a similar approach would work in Uxbridge.
"Maybe we should get into a snit, and then maybe the province will throw some money at us," commented Mayor O’Connor.
Later, an idea from Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle appeared to offer a new perspective on how to handle fill left over from large scale infrastructure projects, such as the Hwy. 407 expansion, the TTC expansion and construction related to the 2015 Pan Am Games.
"These large infrastructure tenders are given without any consideration for fill," explained Councillor Mantle. "It’s a private sector issue, and maybe it should be included in large tenders going forward so they need a plan for what they are going to do with the fill."
John O’Toole praised the idea, but was skeptical that any real answers regarding commercial fill projects are on the horizon.
"It’s an extremely important issue, and that’s the problem with Toronto - to go up, they have to go down. But, it looks like they are waiting until after the Pan Am Games are done before introducing best practices," commented MPP O’Toole.