Hundreds rally against Beachville landfill proposal
Jeremy Richardson, one of the organizers of a rally against Walker Environmental Group's proposed landfill in a mined quarry in Beachville, Ont., speaks to the crowd in Yvonne Holmes -Mott Memorial Park in Ingersoll on March 31, 2012. Following speeches, the group walked through downtown to Walker Environmental Group's office on Carnegie Street. JOHN TAPLEY/INGERSOLL TIMES/QMI AGENCY
From young children to senior citizens, about 300 people showed their opposition to a proposed landfill in Beachville at a rally on Saturday.
Gathering around the gazebo in Yvonne Holmes-Mott Memorial Park, many in the crowd carried signs and wore T-shirts with messages objecting to the idea of a landfill in a mined quarry owned by Carmeuse Lime. Children were also able to express their feelings toward the proposal by Walker Environmental Group (WEG) at a craft table while adults signeda petition against the landfill that will be presented to county council.
“We're here because our town and our county has been threatened by an outside source,” said Ben Lampkin, one of the organizers of the rally. “We need to spread the word. We need to gain knowledge. We need to unite and fight for our town. Together our voice is going to be heard.”
Lampkin, who founded the Facebook group Stop the dump from coming to Ingersoll, said more than 1,400 people had joined as of Saturday.
He asked the crowd at the rally to shout a wakeup call for people in neighbouring communities to get on board.
“Nobody wants a landfill in their backyard. That's an easy idea to get behind,” he said. “But it's more than not having it in our backyard. This (proposed site) is a dangerous location.”
It's dangerous, he said, because water from the property drains into the Thames River.
“The message is, 'Save our water,'” said Lampkin, adding that Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman has told him they will back the anti-landfill cause.
Lampkin thanked Ingersoll Mayor Ted Comiskey for opposing the landfill proposal with a resolution at county council last week that was deferred to the April 11 meeting.
“Ted Comiskey stood up and voiced his opinion for this town and county council got behind the idea,” he said.
Some concerned residents had already met prior to Saturday's rally, forming a group called Oxford People Against the Landfill (OPAL).
Shock and anger is what Juli Slager said she felt when she first heard about the landfill proposal.
“How could they do this to us?” asked Slager, who was at the rally with her husband and their children.
The Slagers were among the first to have anti-landfill signs made and are now helping distribute them to others with more than 220 sold before the rally.
“We've had non-stop orders and people showing up at our house (to buy them),” she said.
Slager said she hoped the rally would further unify people in the community in fighting the landfill proposal.
“Some people think it's a done deal,” she said. “It's not a done deal. We want them to fight.”
Zelma Cromwell, who attended the rally with boyfriend Ron Archer, said she wants to “smell the flowers, not the dump.”
The couple's Centreville home backs onto the Carmeuse property, and Cromwell owns a home near the Oxford County Landfill in Salford.
“I know what the Salford dump smells like in the hot season,” said Cromwell, pointing out such facilities attract seagulls. She also noted that a cemetery is located close to the proposed Beachville landfill site.
She said she first learned about WEG's landfill proposal in Beachville when a company representative left a pamphlet at her door.
“We're going to fight this, aren't we?” Cromwell said about her first thought when she read the pamphlet. “You can't sit down and let them walk over you.”
She said she hoped Saturday's rally would bring recognition to the anti-landfill cause.
“I hope they realize we're not going to lay down and not fight,” Cromwell said. “This is our children's future.”
While she supports fighting the landfill, she said she was disappointed to see a billboard and a town sign at the entrance to Ingersoll defaced with anti-landfill messages.
“That's not right,” she said. “If you want to make a statement, make it on your own property, not other people's property.”
Following speeches in the park, rally participants walked through the downtown to WEG's office on Carnegie Street to draw attention to their cause.
WEG is hosting an open house on its proposal on Wednesday, April 4, at the Quality Hotel and Suites and Convention Centre in Woodstock from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.