“Residents and supporters of Thornhill greenspace, eyed by the town for an aerobic technology pilot test, organized a last-minute march through the meadowland and neighbouring streets yesterday to rally support for their cause.
They are hoping to persuade Markham councillors to preserve the 20 acres, on the northwest side of German Mills Settlers Park, as a unique natural habitat.
The greenspace, which up until 37 years ago functioned as a landfill, abuts more than 50 homes, Bayview Gold and Country Club, Baha’i Centre and Adventure Valley parkland and has been used by the community as a park for bike and walking trails.
Markham, along with Ontario Centres of Excellence, Seneca College and SPL Beatty, a groundwater consulting firm, plan to use the land to test new technology designed to speed up landfill decomposition.
It’s the second time in six years the town has floated the idea, which Mayor Frank Scarpitti said would show Markham is an environmental leader.
In a town meeting held in March, aerobic landfill consultant Brian Beatty touted the technology’s ability to eliminate methane. Environment Canada analyses show landfills alone, as a result of this methane, produce one-third of Canada’s greenhouse gases and in some cases, it is still releasing methane after 100 years. As well, he said, the technology will recirculate ground water and purify the leachate; it will also put oxygen into the soil, which encourage trees to grow.
But Thornhill Councillor Howard Shore, who tabled the notice of motion to preserve the park, said the idea should be put to rest.
Staff and Seneca didn’t have it right six years ago, he told the gathering yesterday and they don’t seem to have it right now.
“You can’t shove a square peg into a round hole.”
Residents say the land has become a valuable habitat for wildlife, the aerobic experiment is costly and unnecessary and the land should no longer be called a landfill.
Rigby Andrews, secretary of the newly formed Settlers Park Residents Association, drew attention to an article in The Liberal from 1986, reporting that Markham council changed the name from Sabiston Pit park to Settlers Park in honour of the first mills in Markham that were built on the nearby creek.
“Looks like a park, feels like a park … must be a park,” he said. “Even the town calls it a park.”
Residents plan to show up in full force — and green shirts — at tomorrow night’s council meeting to encourage councillors to pass Mr. Shore’s motion, rather than defer the decision until fall.