My thoughts on Otter Lake.

We learned how to do this right back in 1995 and we are failing to heed those lessons now.  Garbage wars were replaced with discussion about garbage.

I had hoped that the amendment to the motion positioning the CMC as a partner in this round of public consultation would re-frame the garbage review as a public lead process, and would defuse the election year concerns being raised by the provincial government and the two opposition parties.

It now appears that the community will not be in, nor share the driver’s seat.  I am not blaming staff, the motion did not spell it out as clearly as apparently was required.

We need a waste/resource system review but we need to look back to the last successful review, started 20 years ago, and learn from it.

HRM staff should not conduct nor evaluate the process, nor even hire and oversee consultants to do that.  We need to model what we do on the CSC process, and if the amendments to put the CMC in the frame have not been enough to do that, we need to rethink this process and and make the change.

The process itself must be given the resources to do that and as such, maintain credible independence.

After 20 years, now would be an appropriate time for a Citizen-Led, Consensus-Building public process that could examine the state of our waste/resource system and suggest further improvements.

Such a process could ask what is right for our common future in terms of environmental protection, social betterment and economic strength to build resilience and vitality for us all.

Such a process would put all items on the table – if this process found that FEP and WSF provided no value in all of these senses, given the change in the waste stream and new technology, wouldn’t it make sense to remove it from both the existing and future landfills?

How will we know what the waste/resource stream should look like unless we have a publicly lead process?

Such a process would give us the best future in terms of this issue and would be a visionary and welcome process.

To my mind, there is nothing shameful about retrenching.  I think council knows what it really wants but we are having trouble getting there.  I think it would be best for Council to restart this process as a publicly lead process with a broader mandate, give it 1-3 years to do a review and recommendations, and set a clock in motion for a 10 or 20 year review cycle so we are always looking at best practices.

It looks like we won’t be able to get there very easily now.



  • John C.

    Thank you Waye. Yours is a voice of reason, and a solution that is developed by the public is far better than one forced on the communities local to Otter Lake through a flawed public consultation process. Unfortunately once the motion of rescission was been defeated, another one can not be reintroduced for at least 12 months. A motion of reconsideration is a possibility, but should not be pursued unless the desired result can be achieved.

    I believe that Regional Council wants to respect the local communities’ values, but they have painted themselves into a corner where it appears that somehow a “loss of face”, or just saving money is the issue, and more important than finding a solution through honest negotiations with the public. I wish that the 1995 CSC process where NS Gov/HRM Staff, public & stakeholder workshops developed a solution by consensus were possible today. It took over a year to do it. Perhaps there is a way to do it again, but not while the existing flawed public consultation process is still active.

    So how do we get back to a 1995 method for successfully resolving HRM’s solid waste resource management issues. Is Regional Council willing to have the necessary faith that the public can do this? If not then Garbage Wars appears to be on the horizon, and it will be a shocker for those who were not around back when the first one occurred.

    I am hoping that Councillors Rankin, Adams, Whitman, Hendsbee, Watts, Mosher, and yourself Waye. will some how convince enough other Councillors to give the public a chance to find a solution using a similar process as the one back in 1995. You are the makings of the “A” Team that could prevent Garbage Wars from happening again, and you will have all the public support that you require; all you have to do is ask for it. The CMC/Halifax Waster Resource Society is still the public’s agent at this time, and they are very much open to developing an alternate solution to the thus far approved public consultation process.

    These are my thoughts: John Cascadden,, @jdcas on Twitter, (902)471-4631.

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