INGERSOLL, ONT. -- It was eight-and-a-half years ago that Ingersoll Mayor Ted Comiskey first learned of the plan to bring in 17 million tonnes of waste and dump it in a new landfill just 800 metres from the town boundary.

“Our jaws dropped, we looked at each other and said ‘Can they do that? Do they not have to ask us?,'" Comiskey said Thursday at a gathering of dozens of supporters who have fought since then to keep the ‘mega dump’ from opening.

Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Jeff Yurek told the assembled crowd. “I’m proud to say today, that in Bill 197, the COVID[-19] Economic Recovery Act, if passed, will allow municipalities to have a say, whether or not a landfill is sited in their municipality.”

The bill, which still has to pass a third reading at Queen’s Park and be signed into law, has no real threat in the Conservative majority-led government.

“This is a sign or a signal from the province that they are serious about moving towards a more circular economy. A more responsible and respectable economy and environment in the future,” said the mayor of neighbouring Southwest Oxford, David Mayberry.

Part of the multi-municipality coalition to give municipalities the right to choose what is built within their borders. Zorra Township was the planned destination for the ‘mega dump,’ but Mayor Marcus Ryan says this will be a wake-up call for businesses wanting to skirt local process.

“If you want to in the Township of Zorra, you better make sure you ask the people of Zorra first. Otherwise, they are going to get you in the end.”

The bill goes further, according to Yurek, as neighbouring municipalities that could be affected will also have a say.

“Adjacent municipalities within a 3.5-kilometre radius of the sited dump, if there is residential housing in there, will also have a say and a veto. And this will ensure that development companies take the precautions and the necessary due diligence to have the consultations with municipalities before citing their landfill.”

An emotional Comiskey mused that this could be the catalyst for environmental change in the province.

“Hopefully, this will trigger the old mother of invention, if I can’t bury it, what am I going to do with it? And maybe now, all of industry, all levels of government, will take a look at what we are producing in waste, and not stick it in the ground. But find uses for it, that are safe for all of us.”

President of Oxford People Against the Landfill (OPAL) Bryan Smith has led the community charge since day one and feels vindicated by the nearly completed law.

“If you talk long enough, sensibly enough, and often enough, that governments can listen.”