- Kim Zarzour wrote in Thornhill Liberlal on May 24, 2012
A battle is brewing in the back yards of some Markham residents and both sides say they are on the side of the environment.
The Town of Markham is considering installing a new technology, an aerobic system, to speed up decomposition at the old Sabiston landfill site at German Mills Settlers’ Park.
Mayor Frank Scarpitti says the pilot project will eliminate leachate, reduce methane gas and “put Markham on the map” as an environmental leader.
But residents whose homes back onto the land or use the trails that weave over the site say the opposite is true, that the technology is not needed because methane is negligible and disappearing, and the land is lush with nature that will be harmed by the technology.
They fear their beloved greenspace will be transformed into an industrial site and say they don’t want to be guinea pigs in what they view as a potentially dangerous experiment to prove, for a private company, how well its technology works.
Both sides are meeting with Mr. Scarpitti, Markham staff and local councillor Howard Shore next Wednesday in an attempt to clear the air.
But residents in this southeast Thornhill neighbourhood remain skeptical.
“This will cause massive destruction to the park, creek, plants, habitat … and affect hundreds of people,” said resident Kimberly Seymour.
Ms Seymour’s home backs onto the green fields that were once a dumping ground for old newspapers, kitchen waste, building rubble, wood, concrete and bricks.
Today, she and other neighbours walk their dogs on the trails that weave over the meadowed hills and connect with German Mills Settlers Park.
The land abuts homes to the north and west, and Bayview Golf and Country Club, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i of Canada to the south.
The landfill was closed in 1975 and taken over by the town in 1983 when a methane gas collection system was installed.
Markham wants to use about 1/6 of the site — about the size of three football fields — for a three-to-four-year research program to test the applicability of aerobic technology. It would involve injecting air and water into the waste material and would cost more than $500,000.