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Energy from Waste project gets critical reception at Shawville meeting

Energy from Waste project gets critical reception at Shawville meeting

20 June 2023 à 10:53 am

Updated on 20 June 2023 à 4:11 pm

On Monday evening (June 19), MRC Pontiac Warden Jane Toller hosted a town hall meeting at Shawville United Church to discuss the “Energy from Waste” project that she’s been an advocate of for many years, with 15 people in attendance.

Her proposal is preliminary, and she noted the next step in the plan is to secure funding for a business plan by a professional company (Deloitte was mentioned as an example). She estimated the cost of this plan to be in the range of $100,000-$200,000, and anticipates the majority of the money will come from regional funds allocated to the MRC, though it hasn’t been publicly announced at this point. She said the remainder could come from MRC funds earmarked for the project, as well as the surplus.

The MRC currently spends $1.7 million annually to truck its residual waste (totaling roughly 5,000 tons)  around 200 km away to the Lachute landfill. Toller presented a proposal for a facility, situated at the former Smurfit-Stone mill site in Litchfield, which would incinerate roughly 400,000 tons of residual waste annually, trucked in from across the Outaouais, the City of Ottawa and Renfrew County. Though the exact technology has yet to be selected, Toller said that the proposed facility would generate 45 megawatts of electricity.

Toller spoke about her time as a Toronto city councillor back in the early 2000s, where she oversaw waste management as part of her duties and said she considers herself “an environmentalist.”


Following Toller’s presentation, the floor was opened to questions from the public and attending media. Much of the questions and commentary were quite critical of the proposal. One attendee commented that the presentation sounded like a sales pitch from Covanta, the company whose technology Toller has repeatedly touted. Toller even presented a short video produced by the company at the end of the meeting. Toller said that she’s not committing to one company or technology in particular, and called Covanta a “world leader” in waste incineration. It also operates the the closest facility to the area, the Durham York Energy Centre, which several local elected officials and staff visited last year. That facility has a long and controversial history, summarized well in two articles by Dave Flaherty for The Oshawa Express.

Linda Davis, a former councillor in the Regional Municipality of Ottawa Carleton who ran against Toller in the 2017 election for warden, questioned the rationale for trucking residual waste from Ontario across a provincial border, which is not currently approved by the Quebec government. In her presentation, Toller stated that without the tonnage from the City of Ottawa, the project is not economically viable, and Davis questioned why Ottawa wouldn’t just build their own facility.

Jennifer Quaile, an Otter Lake councillor and member of the MRC’s waste management committee, read an extensive list of her concerns about the project, including the possible impact on air quality and the toxicity of waste products left over following incineration. She also questioned whether the region’s Indigenous communities had been adequately consulted on the project proposal. She spoke with CHIP 101.9 about her concerns after the meeting.

The discussion at the meeting turned away from the Energy from Waste project at times, as many of the attendees stated that they would rather see more efforts to divert compost and recyclables from the landfill, and reduce the amount of waste produced by the region. Quaile said that she has advocated for this approach, both on the waste management committee and also in the Municipality of Otter-Lake.

Another meeting on the proposed project is scheduled for Tuesday June 20 at 7 p.m. at the Fort-Coulonge Knights of Columbus Hall.