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Years in the Making

OPAL President Bryan Smith and a core group of volunteers have been fighting against a proposed landfill in Zorra Township for over 8 years. They are hoping that Bill 197 will bring a positive end to that fight.

INGERSOLL/ZORRA TOWNSHIP - Bill 197, the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act goes for a third reading at the legislature on Wednesday.

It will be debated at the legislature today. It has 20 items on the bill, of note for Oxford County is the item that states that anyone wanting to build a landfill will have to get agreement from any municipality located within 3 and a half kilometres of the facility.

For someone like Bryan Smith, the President of the Oxford People Against Landfills, that part of the bill is music to his ears. Smith says they have been fighting against Walker Environmental Group from bringing a landfill into their community for over 8 years now.

"Since day 1, we have been fighting against this plan to haul 17.4 million tonnes of trash out of Toronto and ditch them in a quarry inside the boundaries of Zorra Township, in the headwaters of Thames river and very much in the ground water that becomes the drinking water for lot's of people in Zorra, Ingersoll and South-West Oxford.

Smith says it is amazing how the community has come together to fight against this landfill.

"Two DJ's hauled their equipment into the Colombo Hall and said to people, well we heard there was a dump and people decided that they would then entrust a steering committee to lead it off and that led to the core group of people who started OPAL." 

Smith says a lot of things need to happen for this to become law, however things are looking really positive right now.

"It has to go to third reading, it has to be signed by the Lieutenant Governor, in what is called Royal Ascent and then that particular part of the bill has to be proclaimed, because until such time as they actually proclaim it, it doesn't become law. We need that to happen and we need that to happen before Walker finishes the Environment Assessment process, which is still in draft until the end of the summer, so that they can't came that they haven't in any way been slighted by an application and process being turned down. In actual fact, they don't have an actual official application in place."

Smith says if that happens, there are going to be a lot of happy people in Oxford County.

"Elation, absolute elation, it would be incredible, there will be a desire of course to celebrate, that kind of celebration is something we would have to think about, how can we do it safely with a pandemic still in place. The community will have reason to celebrate, to understand that was an amazing effort from a small community to make themselves heard province wide." 

You can listen to the full interview with Bryan Smith below.

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