Saturday, July 25, 2009

What I Did On Summer Vacation

I had the opportunity to visit Dump Site 41.

A landfill is to be built here, directly over top three aquifers including the large Alliston Aquifer (see map and read more info here), containing some of the purest water in the world. This site is also situated on a floodplain, next to farmer's fields and sensitive wetlands. There is a public outflow of water just down site from where the dump is to be built. People have been coming to this spring for drinking water for countless generations. I have been to the spring many times myself to fill up on this incredible tasting, clean water. Once the dump opens the spring will be made inaccessible to the public, 'just in case'.

Needless to say, area residents oppose the location of the dump and have been protesting the site for many years. Protest efforts have recently stepped up as dewatering and construction of the site has begun. Since early July many community members including farmers, residents, cottagers and First Nations people have blocked the gate to workers trying to get onto the site. They are asking for a one year moratorium on construction of the dump so that further studies can be made.

Earlier this week a court injunction was issued making the blockade illegal putting protesters at risk of arrest, fines and imprisonment.

This hasn't stopped the protesters. Many are prepared for arrest and others are willing to support them from the other side of the road where it is legal to protest.

I am so saddened to see yet another example of our water being taken for granted and threatened. I am angry that this decision was made in the first place. And I am heartsick at another example of society shitting and pissing in the places where we eat and drink.

At the same time I am so encouraged and heartened to see the group of dedicated people standing strong and holding their ground to protect our water. It was such a privilege to talk to some of the people on the site. I spoke with older farmers who live in the area, their wives bringing pots of food for the protesters, the Anishinabe women who set up the protest camp, the young people taking their turn at the gate. They are not the militant, angry activists stereotyped by the media. They are plain folk. Just like you and me. And they don't want anyone messing with their water.

It's 9:30 on Saturday morning as I write this. At 1:30 this afternoon the protesters will hold a rally to raise awareness and support for this cause. I am leaving soon to go camping with my mom. If I wasn't, you can bet I would be at that rally and I sure as hell would take my turn at the gate.


Liz said...

Sometimes I just don't get this world. Good for you for going and thanks for posting about it. I signed the petition.

GEM said...

Several days ago, a friend and i were driving into vancouver along the Lougheed Highway from the Fraser Valley. There is a two mile stretch along the freeway at the edge of Coquitlam where was a regional dump around thirty five years ago. The land site of the dump has been converted into commercial warehouses and big box stores, being unfit for human domicile. On a swltering hot summer day, such as the one on which we were travelling, that site gave up the most ghastly scent. It does that every summer. My friend, who is largely unknowing about the history of the area, wondered about the source of the awful stench. I said "a covered over dump-site". Now ths dumpsite is adjacent to the Fraser River which is a major salmon run and has been for centuries. I rue what we have done to this river, what has happened to the quality of air our children are now breathing near this site. People, uncaring and oblivious, carry on shopping the big box stores in this area, unaware of what that pervasive seasonal stench represents. G

Amber said...

Hi Liz. I hear you. At the site I kept thinking, this is just the dumbest idea ever. I don't get it.

I'm so glad you signed the petition!

I've read reports that there was a good turn out at the rally, it was peaceful and so far no arrests have been made. The blockade still continues and many council members in the surrounding townships are voting for the year long moratorium.

Wow, GEM. Thanks for sharing your story, though it's a sad one.
Perhaps the folks in favor of Site 41 figure they can solve any future problems with big box retail. Sigh....

SoapBoxTech said...

Ahh my favorite topic...landfills.

Amber said...

Ha! No doubt you have a few thoughts on this SBT...

You still getting lots of garbage blowing over onto the farm?

SoapBoxTech said...

It hasn`t been a windy summer really, but it is still a mess. They sent out a small crew a couple of months back but they were only cleaning the buffer zone and they didn`t even finish that!

Thanks for asking.