Did you feel the seismic activity around Lake Ontario last week? Luckily, it wasn't the Niagara to Pickering magnetic lineament that moved, sending nuclear power plants crumbling into our drinking water. It was a decision by Hamilton City Council to reject staff's proposal to exempt a new municipal incinerator from a full environmental process.
Hamilton Councillors voted 8-7 against a motion from Public Works to burn garbage on a fast-tracked basis. The decision ensures a public process to review the incinerator proposal and the alternatives. It means government regulators and industry representatives will have to provide evidence, including facts about the dangers of incineration as part of the application. It means decisions will be based on science and that conditions can be drafted to ensure oversight and accountability for the future.
Hamilton's decision is an important one because it goes against the unsustainable trend of rolling back environmental protections. For over a decade our regulators have typically cut short environmental decision-making processes in the name of improved efficiency or smart regulation. Be it nuclear power plants, landfills, incinerators or highways, a whole generation of Ontarians have grown up without the benefit of processes that focus on discovering the economic, social and environmental impacts of such matters on their communities.
It is incredibly encouraging to see Hamilton's leaders show the others how it should be done. Brian McHattie, Sam Merulla, Bob Bratina, Brad Clark, Scott Duvall, Bernie Morelli, Terry Whitehead and Chad Collins have demanded that their City meet the highest environmental standard. The tremors from this decision will hopefully move our provincial and federal representatives to start doing the same thing for the province and the country.