by NICHOLAS MIZERA
Markham City Council rejected a proposed plan to install a methane-reduction system at a former landfill after a local councillor and the nearby community pushed to have the plan scrapped. At the same meeting, Ward 4 councillor Howard Shore, who worked closely with Settlers Park Residents Association to bury the methane-reduction system proposal, introduced a motion to include the verdant former Sabiston Landfill area in Markham’s park system as German Mills Meadow and Natural Habitat.
Despite a 12 to one rejection of the $500,000 system for pumping air and water into the waste to speed its decay aerobically, the park designation motion failed and was deferred to city staff. Coun. Shore said it is only a matter of time before the city designates the area as parkland. However, he said German Mills Meadow would be more than your average park.
“It makes it more unique, in fact, to call the western portion the German Mills Meadow and the other Settlers Park. They’re connected, but they’re different,” he said. The meadow would be allowed to grow freely, to establish a natural habitat teeming with plant and animal life.
Coun. Shore said the Town of Markham does not have the authority to redesignate the area, now officially zoned as a methane-producing landfill. However, a staff report, due in September, will advise whether or not to bring the matter forward to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. Shore said it seems to be just a formality.
“We’re being silly and making this a bigger issue than it is,” he said. “Regardless of what’s on a piece of paper, people will come to know this as German Mills Meadow.”
The president of the Settlers Park Residents group, Artem Pozdnyakov, said some town records call it a park.
“It says it in all the old documents. If you [go to] Google maps … and look at our park, it is right at the place the aerobic project was planned,” he said of the meadow area. With methane levels at safe levels nearest residential homes, Pozdnyakov agreed the designation is the group’s last hurdle.
“We hope [the designation] won’t be forgotten,” said Pozdnyakov. “We look forward to the September session and hope it will be included in the agenda.”