Yes In My Backyard: Planning For The Development of Contentious Infrastructure
Waste management is a prevalent and highly contentious issue in modern society. People are often very sensitive about decisions on where and how municipalities choose to dispose of their waste. While it is generally understood that waste disposal facilities such as incinerators and landfills are needed to manage waste that cannot be recycled or composted, there nevertheless seems to be significant opposition in response to any such proposal. This paper will be exploring how communities are currently being engaged in Ontario during the development approval process for incinerators, what motivates communities to actively oppose incinerators, and what can be done to mitigate this opposition. To do this I will be making a case study out of the development approval process for the Durham York Energy Centre (DYEC). The DYEC is a waste-to-energy incinerator in Clarington, Ontario that began operations in 2015. This facility received a significant amount of opposition from the community, which will be explored in detail in this paper. While I focus on incinerator development my goal was to learn the best methods for engaging communities for any undesirable development including landfills and nuclear power plants. My research findings suggest that incinerator opposition cannot be mitigated through basic consultation. No amount of consultation will convince people to approve of something they do not want, especially when they feel that it is being forced on them. The goal of community communications plans should not be mitigating opposition but rather should be engaging communities to find optimal strategies for handling communal problems such as waste management or energy. This paper will also be looking at alternative waste disposal options for municipal solid waste that cannot be recycled or composted. Having an understanding of the alternatives will allow for a more educated discussion on how municipalities can best manage their waste.