Developing a Process for Siting Hazardous Waste Facilities in Canada - The Swan Hills Case
By Barbara Gray
This Article Summary written by: Tanya Glaser, Conflict Research Consortium
Citation: Developing a Process for Siting Hazardous Waste Facilities in Canada - The Swan Hills Case, Selection from: Barbara Gray, Collaborating: Finding Common Ground for Multiparty Problems, (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1989), pp. 209-211
Generally, any proposal to create a hazardous waste facility will be greeted with community opposition. In 1980, in an attempt to overcome this opposition and build the needed facilities, the Canadian providence of Alberta developed a providence-wide siting and education process.
The education portion consisted of a series of public forums which gave the public "a comprehensive picture of waste-handling procedures from doorstep to dump and of their own civic responsibility in preventing indiscriminate dumping."[p. 210]
The siting portion relied on multilevel mapping. First, the government made a series of maps of the province based on current land use, and human, physical and biological characteristics. These maps were then overlaid to identify constraint-free areas. These initial maps and the mapping process were then opened up to public comment, via a series of grassroots public meetings. The public was encouraged to aid in the further development and refinement of the mapping process. Next, the government called for volunteers from among the communities in the constraint- free areas. Swan Hills was chosen from among the five volunteer communities. Government negotiations focused on "tax benefits, economic spin-offs, roadway improvements, employee housing, and employment priority for local township residents."[p. 210] While misunderstandings forced some renegotiations, an agreement was reached in 1984 and the Swan Hills Plant is operational.