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The long, troubled history of the Cayuga landfill has another twist. The court-appointed receiver, SF Partners, is now inviting offers to purchase the Cayuga landfill, after nearly 10 years of effort to modernize and reopen it. The Cayuga site was one of the original landfills that received a certificate of approval for massive amounts of waste in 1971, when Ontario first began to regulate landfill sites. The site had no liner or other leachate protection, and received both hazardous and non-hazardous waste. The operation eventually petered out, leaving a mess with lots of valuable airspace.

The Haldimand Norfolk Sanitary Landfill company promised to clean up the mess and install proper leachate controls, in exchange for amendments to its certificate of approval to allow it to operate like a modern landfill. These key amendments included an increase in the rate of fill, and a  new design to meet updated theories of landfill construction. The company was eventually successful in obtaining the desired amendments to its certificate of approval, and the landfill is currently operating.

However,  the landfill was swept up in the bitter dispute about First Nations rights, and in police refusal to enforce court orders against native protests. Long delays  pushed up costs and  deferred revenues, driving the company into receivership. Any new owners will have to find a way to deal with their First Nations neighbours.

It is also fascinating to contemplate the potential consequences should a First Nations community decide to buy and operate the landfill. First Nations reserves dominate the Canadian casino world because of their constitutional exemption from normal gambling  restrictions; what would stop them from doing the same in the waste business?

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