Settlers Park Residents Association
An Open Letter to Markham City Council
February 11, 2014
Dear Mr. Mayor, Deputy Mayor and City Councillors:
Drilling in the German Mills Meadow and Natural Habitat
The board of the Settlers Park Residents Association is concerned that Markham’s General Committee made a decision on February 3rd that was based on inaccurate and/or less than complete information.
We draw your attention to the following matters.
- It was said at the meeting that the consultants and staff both recommended the drilling of new wells. However, the consultant who recommended the drilling is the same consultant who we have been told will manage the work. We feel that this conflict of interest should have been declared at the meeting.
- The staff did not make an independent recommendation. The staff openly declared at the meeting they held with the SPRA representative, on November 21st, that they lacked the expertise to make an independent judgment. They said that they were relying totally on the recommendation of the consultant. We believe this is important information that should have been mentioned to the General Committee, particularly when the consultant was in a conflict of interest situation.
- The senior member of staff who declared there was a road from the extension of Leslie Street to John Street must have been given erroneous information. For at least half the distance, there is no road. The line on the map presented to the General Committee is, in fact, a narrow footpath. The terrain immediately north of the Leslie extension is totally unsuitable for vehicles. We believe the General Committee did not receive an accurate picture of the amount of environmental degradation which will occur in getting the heavy machinery to the drilling locations.
- We are concerned that at least one of the Regulations that the consultant is relying upon, namely O. Reg. 232/98 – Landfill Standards Guideline, is in fact only applicable to active landfill sites. Following the General Committee meeting, we asked the Chairman of the Community Liaison Committee to clarify this matter for us, but so far have not had a reply.
- We believe the General Committee should have been given much more specific information as to what Section of the Regulations the consultant was relying upon, rather than the simple statement that more wells were prudent. We have repeatedly sought this information, because we have found nothing in the recommendations so far cited to support the consultant’s recommendation.
- We were disappointed that the General Committee did not receive a more comprehensive analysis of the potential liability it faced. The possibility of litigation was discussed at the Community Liaison Committee. The precedent cited to that Committee was that the City of Kingston was fined, because it knew leachate was actually running into a river, and the City chose not to do anything about it. The scientific evidence is that leachate is not running into the German Mills Creek. The situation in Markham is not remotely like the situation in Kingston. The General Committee would have had a more balanced view if this information had been presented to it.
We understand why, given the information that was presented to it, the General Committee made the decision that it did. However, we believe with more complete and accurate information available to it, the General Committee may well have reached a different conclusion.
The City of Markham wishes to make its mark with environmental leadership. Designating the long-closed, Sabiston landfill as the ‘German Mills Meadow and Natural Habitat’ was an excellent move in that direction. The Meadow is a rare breeding ground for two ‘at-risk’ species. It would be a sad mark against Markham, if they are driven away by the disruption to the terrain caused by the drilling equipment.
We totally concur that if drilling is required by law, then it must be done. However, we have yet to see evidence that that is the case. Given the amount at stake, we urge the City of Markham Council to revisit the drilling question and ensure its decision is based on a complete and fair analysis of the facts.
On behalf of the Board of Directors,
Settlers Park Residents Association