Monday, September 25, 2006

Publish Days - Ink Blog - Garbage Cubed

Last week was another on week for my newspaper column. I've got a three-cycle backlog (that's 15 poor readers!) that I'll post to the blog in the days to come.

This week, I was somewhat fixated on one issue - and I ended up writing three pieces on this one topic. This is highly unusual, but it was an issue that resonated strongly with local readers, and they responded in droves with passionate e-mails outlining their perspective. I felt a huge responsibility to continue the dialog on their behalf.

The issue? The city of Toronto - about a two-hour drive east of here - has been shipping its garbage to Michigan for a few years. Every day, hundreds of huge dump trucks make the round trip down the 401 highway that skirts London's southern border. The state of Michigan recently announced it would ban such dumping starting in 2010. So Toronto, unable and unwilling to solve its garbage problem, sought another dumping ground. After a series of secret meetings which failed to involve the regions that would be most directly affected, the city announced it had purchased a landfill near London. Toronto said too bad. The provincial government pretended there was nothing it could do. London was screwed over in the process.

As a crusading journalist, this ticks me off to no end. It ticked off large numbers of readers, too. So I wrote and wrote and wrote about it. I coined the term "garbagegate" and managed to get the word "shafting" into print. Here are the three pieces from last week's writing cycle:
Toronto garbage not welcome here
Published Wednesday, September 20, 2006
The London Free Press
By Carmi Levy

Garbage stinks, of course. But Toronto’s garbage stinks worse after reports that it wants to ship it to a London-area landfill.

Our mayor says London has been actively lobbying the provincial government to get Toronto to keep its garbage within the Greater Toronto Area.

This effort apparently continues to fall on deaf ears, which serves as an ominous message to Ontarians who live outside Toronto. Essentially, if you’re not a big city, you’re second-class.

I refuse to accept Toronto’s bid to dump its mess in places that are too small to fight back. You should, too.

And with a municipal election fast approaching, the time is now to press your candidates on this make-or-break issue.

Cities that fail to clean up their own garbage act shouldn’t be allowed to override the rights of others. Governments at all levels that fail to address our fundamental right to not be bullied deserve to be voted out of office.

Toronto must learn to keep its garbage in its own backyard, not in ours.


A whole lot of green for garbage dump
Published Thursday, September 21, 2006
The London Free Press
By Carmi Levy

You’ve got to give Green Lane Landfill owner Bob McCaig credit. Though the terms of the sale of his property won’t be made public for another 90 days, the deal is estimated to be worth around $200 million. That’s a lot of green for a garbage dump.

However, McCaig lost me when he said he was pleased to be working with Toronto “on an environmentally viable solution to a major problem.”

I’m having difficulty understanding the so-called environmental viability of this deal. Is McCaig referring to the hundreds of trucks burning incalculable amounts of diesel fuel between here and Toronto? Does he mean the money that Toronto still doesn’t spend on increased waste diversion or recycling programs?

The only thing that seems really viable in all of this is Mr. McCaig’s profit. The rest of the region will now spend the next 20 years paying the price for this so-called “solution to a major problem.”

If you’re as ticked off about this as I am, e-mail me and we’ll share our thoughts with city hall.


'Garbagegate' will bite provincial Grits
Published Saturday, September 23, 2006
The London Free Press
By Carmi Levy

If politicians at all levels of government are reading this – assuming they read at all – I’ve got news for them: voters are angrier than I’ve ever seen them.

My inbox has been blasted by responses from livid readers who say the deal to sell the Green Lane Landfill to Toronto smacks of political opportunism and abject greed. They’re fed up with the province’s pandering to the large number of Toronto-area voters, and to the never-ending backroom deal-making that continually violates the letter and the spirit of government accountability. They almost unanimously agree that this marks a new low in political backstabbing.

While local politicians argue over Garbagegate’s potential impact on the upcoming municipal election, the real story lies squarely within Toronto’s borders. The true villains are the self-centred leaders of Toronto and a morally bankrupt provincial government that will do almost anything to hold onto office – even if it means shafting the Southwestern Ontario electorate.

But voters have long memories. The provincial Liberals can expect a very rough ride from this region the next time we go to the polls.


Your turn: What would you do if something similar happened to your otherwise-sleepy city? How do you fight back against faraway, disconnected political forces? Can the individual truly make a difference?


Anonymous said...

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carmilevy said...

NOTE FROM CARMI: I moderate comments on my blog because I generally try to avoid exposing the kind folks who visit here to the scourge of comment spam.

I allowed this one because it was so obviously ridiculous and badly-targeted. I thought it would result in a good laugh.

Unlike most comment spam, this one has an e-mail address attached to it. Feel free to share it with sheep porn sites and other known places where spammers and scammers go to harvest e-mail addresses.

This one also has a lovely little typo in the URL. This Mr. Goldstein (as if) is quite the literary genius. Makes me wonder if he's so meticulous in his regular business dealings. One hopes so.

It isn't my practice to let these onto the blog with any degree of regularity. But this one almost begged for it.

Jennifer said...

so... sending trash to michigan is bad? i thought they were the suspool of the world? that's what the ohio state version of the university of michigan fightsong says... ;)
shall i sing it for you?
indeed, i will whether you want to hear it or not! if you'll post spam comments, i'm sure you'll post my MUCK FICHIGAN comment right?

"hail to the mother fu@kers
hail to the big c@ck suckers
hail hail to michigan
the suspool of the world!"


Karen said...

Wow, that truly does stink. Here in Milwaukee, we're trying not to sell our Lake Michigan water to other cities, but even that is hitting a wall. Money talks and citizens rarely do until it's too late. I hope that your columns raise the ire of everyone in London. I've always wondered if people wouldn't be more careful about their garbage if they had to dump it in their own backyard. Here's a good example.

I'm glad that you explained the spam comment. For a minute there, I thought you were asleep on the job Carmi!

Stopping by to say hi. Hope all is well!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Truthfully Carmi, I wouldn't know what to do...This is a terrible situation for your city...! Disgusting doesn't even cover it, at all! What I find so depressing is that there are so many HUGE things, like this, that as an individual just make me feel they are too HUGE for me to make a difference...How many people would it take for Toronto to take this problem for London, seriously?
How many people would it take to "make the difference", do you think? All these things just seem so overwhelmong and for me, because I have personal things that seem too HUGE to solve, as I am sure many others have too, that I just kind of slink away depressed, feeling it is all impossible.
I'm sorry that I feel that way, but....this is how the world is now....there is, it seems to me, more Non-Caring BIG Companies, Political figures, etc, who all talk two sides out of their mouth, but do what they are going to do, mo matter...because they know they can. Sooooo deeply depressing.

Diane said...

Wow, I feel like I have entered the Twilight Zone of comments. :)

We used to get the trash from New York City, but I think that has stopped. It always amazed me that it was easier for a city to put it on a barge and pay another city to take care of it rather than find a local solution. As far as one person making a difference, it's our responsibility to make our voices and opinions heard, and you're doing the right thing by publishing the information and increasing others' awareness.

L said...

apparently, this is happening all over the place- not just in Canada

srp said...

On a brighter note. A little imagination and forward thinking can come up with an answer to the trash problem. Here in Virginia Beach, just two miles from our house is a former land fill site. It has been turned into a family park with two small lakes, a rustic kids playground and a skateboard park. Wild ducks and Canadian geese live here year round and nesting sites have been set up for them at the edge of the lakes. Jogging and walking paths are maintained and areas for picnics are available. In the center is a large hill, one of the highest, if not the highest points of land in Virginia Beach and on any given day you will see two or three kites flying, year round.

You can read how Mt. Trashmore came about.


If voting could really change things,

Politicians would firgure out a
way to make it Illegal!

Illigitimi Tatum
Non Carborundum

Comment? Record first name
amd your town. reb

David Edward said...

dig in my archives all you wish, friend. what does the Z initial in your name stand for?