Toronto Takes Aim at Provincial Permits to Burn Waste Motor Oil

May 25, 2006

(Toronto) Yesterday, Toronto City Council took action to tell the Province that it wants provincially permitted waste oil burning in Toronto to stop.

Over forty facilities in Toronto have provincial certificates of approval (CoA) to burn waste motor oil in heating furnaces, releasing a host of carcinogens and heavy metals into the local air. The province recently lifted a six year moratorium on new CoAs for waste oil burning and is now approving applications in Toronto. The provincial CoAs fly in the face of a stated provincial commitment to implement better environmental stewardship of waste motor oil and a City of Toronto bylaw that prohibits burning in space heaters.

The City Council was advised that provincial CoAs likely supercede the City prohibition. In lieu of enforcement of the bylaw, City Council moved to call for a provincial phase-out of waste oil burning, lodge formal objections to current and future applications for burning in Toronto under the Environmental Bill of Rights, and review the new City of Toronto Act for potential new jurisdictional authority that would allow the City to prohibit waste motor oil burning regardless of CoAs.

“This week City Council stood up for Toronto’s right to clean air and shed light on the Province’s shoddy management of waste oil,” stated Katrina Miller of the Toronto Environmental Alliance. “It’s just unbelievable that the province continues to ignore both its stated policy goals to develop proper stewardship of waste motor oil and the City’s bylaw against burning it.”

Miller highlighted that Ontario currently has industrial capacity to re-refine all waste motor oil created in the Province. Re-refining waste motor oil is economically viable, and uses less energy than refining virgin oil, a non-renewable resource. The re-refinement process is significantly more environmentally sound than burning waste oil in space heaters. The missing piece is provincial regulations that encourage producers like garages to send it to re-refineries instead of burning it locally.

City Councillors Shelley Carroll and Suzan Hall triggered the City’s action by proposing a motion at City Council on Wednesday, which was adopted by a vote of 40 to 2. Councillor Hall’s North Etobicoke Ward is already burdened with 4 facilities burning waste oil. An additional application for waste oil burning in the Ward is presently being considered by the Province.

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For more information, call Katrina Miller, Toronto Environmental Alliance (416) 596-0660.