Site 41 Update – Blockade

Local residents marching to the July 4th rally opposing Site 41

Simcoe County residents march to a July 4th rally opposing Dump Site 41

On June 30th, despite a well-attended protest by community members outside council chambers, Simcoe County Councilors voted in favour of a measure prohibiting vehicles from parking within 50 metres of either entrance to Site 41 on the north side of the road.  The parking ban has yet to be enforced, as signs are required to first be installed to inform drivers of the new measure, but once in place the ban will likely prove a substantial setback for those protesting the continued development of the Dump Site.

Four days later, about 400 people marched from the Elmvale Arena and joined about 150 more at the campsite across from Site 41 that has been active for over 60 days. The march and subsequent rally was organized by the Council of Canadians and included speeches from provincial NDP leader Andrea Horwath, Council of Canadians chair Maude Barlow, former MP and Toronto Mayor David Crombie, Conservative MPP Garfield Dunlop, local activist Stephen Ogden, radio host Dale Goldhawk, and a representative from the Chiefs of Ontario.

During her speech, Maude Barlow spoke of meetings with local councilors about a proposal for a year-long moratorium on site development which she hopes to go before the  council once it resumes on August 25th.  “People supporting the site are feeling the heat,” said Barlow, “and I think they would like to find a peaceful resolution to this…and if the decision isn’t what we want, we will then decide how we react. But we have to make sure no garbage goes into the site before Aug. 25th. Not one piece of garbage must be allowed to be dumped, because once it is, it that becomes very hard to undo.”

The day following the rally, an email sent by Simcoe County Warden Tony Guergis to local Councilors was obtained by community members. The email spoke of a new plan to have Site 41 operational within weeks rather than months as previously scheduled.

In response, A blockade was formed at 5am the next morning, preventing equipment from entering Site 41. Vicki Monague, in charge of communications for the ongoing Anishinabe camp site opposing the Dump Site, sent out a message later in the day saying, “Natives have blocked entrances and now joined by locals. This is a permanent block.” According to camp member Shelley Essaunce, there are currently people blocking all three entrances to the site.

First Nations protesters are seeking Federal intervention, citing the responsibility of the Canadian government to protect the lands, waters and resources of First Nations communities.  “Dump Site 41 will be a breach of the Crown’s legal obligation to protect our territories and water and resources,” said First Nations protester John Hawke. “This dump will eventually leak into Georgian Bay – my territory – and I’m not moving until this is stopped; until people from the federal level come and talk with us.”

-Several quotes obtained by Douglas Glynn
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