Saint-Nicéphore landfill | Court annuls Quebec Decree, Drummondville declares victory

Drummondville is screaming “victory” but calling for a “national discussion” about the future of waste management following a landmark Supreme Court ruling that nullified the Quebec government decree authorizing expansion of the site’s engineered landfill ( LET ) in Saint Nicephore.

Posted at 12:09 p.m

Henri Ouellette-Vezina

Henri Ouellette-Vezina
The press

“This decision may be a legal victory for the city, but not yet an ecological victory in relation to residue management. We are facing a major social challenge,” Drummondville Mayor Stéphanie Lacoste warned at a news conference on Wednesday.

Last summer, Quebec announced its intention to enact the establishment of a Special Intervention Zone (ZIS) to allow the Saint-Nicéphore landfill to continue operating.

We then asked the government to avoid hygiene and safety issues affecting all of southern Quebec, as the options to divert the residues removed at this site – which is nearing full capacity – to other locations are very limited, if not available. Shortly thereafter, Drummondville announced that it would take legal action against Quebec and considered the decision “unimaginable” since the population had already rejected the expansion project in a referendum.

In her decision issued Tuesday, Judge Katheryne A. Desfossés agreed with the city, ruling that the government’s decision to pass this decree was “inappropriate” and therefore “invalid.” She also criticizes Quebec for not dividing the lots needed to create a CIS for the sole reason that the environment ministry was “lacking time”.

Photo Olivier PontBriand, LA PRESSE archive

“The judge agrees with us that the government has not followed its own rules Planning and Urban Planning Act when he decreed the special operations zone. The scope chosen for the ZIS is far too large and the lack of a period of validity shows that it is futile to want to act urgently in the long term,” continued Mayor Lacoste. She also sees it as “another victory” for community autonomy in Quebec.

that said mme Lacoste recognizes that as multiple landfills reach capacity, it will be necessary to find “alternative solutions” for the disposal of residues. “It is important that we start a national discussion on this issue,” she urged, urging her community and government colleagues to “reflect on the issue.” “We will not meet the challenge of disposing of residues in Quebec with court proceedings, decrees or special laws, but by talking to each other, discussing together,” she emphasized.

Quebec “under analysis”, prudent waste management

Accompanied by The press, the office of Minister for the Environment and Combating Climate Change, Benoit Charette, said it “takes note” of the court’s ruling that “suspends the CIS”. “We are currently analyzing the follow-up to this judgment,” said the Minister’s spokeswoman, Rosalie Tremblay-Cloutier.

“The decision to introduce a ZIS to allow for the expansion of the Saint-Nicéphore LET was not taken lightly. The aim was to avoid an inevitable health crisis in the event of a business interruption,” she recalled, however.

For the time being, Waste Management, the multinational company that manages the Saint-Nicéphore landfill, can nevertheless continue its activities until October 2022. “For the future, we will closely monitor the direction that the government will take. We’ll see what becomes of all this. The ink of judgment is scarcely dry. We still need to refine our understanding,” he said.

Photo Olivier PontBriand, LA PRESSE archive

“The health crisis looming on the horizon continues to this day. In fact, we stand together on the edge of the abyss. And if the site ever closed, there would be a big problem waiting for Quebecers,” Mr Dussault also argued. The latter also recalls that “the judge recognizes that the government could proceed with the creation of the CIS”, but orders it to “delineate” it better.

Should the special intervention zone arise, waste management could bury up to 430,000 tons of residues per year there for a maximum period of 10 years.

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