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Municipalities cannot force property owners to divert demoltion waste

Guelph and other Ontario municipalities should have the power to force property owners to divert demolition materials from landfill, says Coun. Leanne Piper.
Guelph city hall staff found the city doesn’t have the legal authority to require that all recyclable demolition and construction waste be diverted from landfill. Piper says the province should give municipalities this power.
“I think municipalities should have this power,” she said in an email sent in response to a Tribune query.
“We are the level of government responsible for waste management,” Piper said. About 30 per cent of what’s in Ontario landfills is demolition, renovation and construction waste, and this “impacts our future capacity for landfill use,” she said.
Municipalities “are given a mandate to divert, but no authority to enact bylaws that require diversion of specific high-use (waste) streams,” such as this type of waste, she said.
Most older homes were built using locally available materials or at least materials from within Canada, Piper said.
But “new houses often use much cheaper off-shore products, which have to be transported here, and have a huge carbon footprint,” she said. “The environmental cost of demolition is huge – the demo itself, the landfilling, the waste of good materials, and then the footprint of the materials to build the new structure.”
Piper launched a campaign against house demolitions without recycling of demolition waste in April 2011. That November, council voted 11-1 in support of her motion calling for city staff to investigate the city’s authority to require that all recyclable construction and demolition waste material in Guelph be diverted from landfill.
City staff researched whether any provincial legislation gives the city this power. They reported to council last month that Guelph has no legal authority to require this sort of diversion as a condition when issuing demolition and building permits.
However, the city began a pilot project in 2009 to isolate and recycle construction and demolition waste generated by industrial, commercial and institutional sources, as well as by the public. In 2011, the city decided to continue and enhance the program, which is voluntary.
The system designed by the city can handle not only construction and demolition waste that’s separated at source, but also “comingled” demolition and construction waste that hasn’t been separated by type, the report says. The source-separated materials that are accepted include asphalt shingles, clean wood and drywall, and there’s a “rubble bunker” for concrete, asphalt, brick, ceramics and porcelains.
An area at the public drop-off at the Waste Resource Innovation Centre has been set up for the general public. “The project has been a tremendous success from a financial and waste diversion point of view,” it says. In 2011, over 5,000 metric tonnes of construction and demolition waste was diverted from landfill – including about 1,200 metric tonnes generated at the public drop-off, with the rest coming from industrial, commercial and institutional sources.
“Overall, this program is proving to have the largest impact on diversion after organics and blue box recycling,” the report says.

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