The recycling site on Rang St. Jean has been at the heart of deep concerns not only among the community, but also surrounding municipalities since 2016. (COURTESY VIRGINIE ANN)
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This article was in collaboration with Christopher Curtis.
Shot hundreds of feet over the G&R Recycling property in Kanesatake, the drone footage is damning.
It highlights the environmental impact of a system that has allowed construction sites across Quebec to use Mohawk land as a place to get rid of their refuse.
The footage, first obtained by The Eastern Door and later leaked to YouTube by a whistleblower, exposes the reality of the controversial recycling site.
It was posted on Tuesday, September 8 under the account Kanesatake Whistle Blower, which had been created that same day.
By Friday morning, the Youtube video was taken down for unknown reason.
The aerial video shows mountains of waste – which add up to a volume well-beyond G&R’s allowable limit through governmental and band council permits, according to government records.
While the company was meant to stay within the clearing below the wooded hills on their property, the footage shows piles of trash sprawled well into the forest.
“In the resolution, it says that they should not touch the mountain, that it should remain pristine during the lifetime of the project,” said grand chief Serge Otsi Simon in an interview with The Eastern Door, “and they went up the mountain and made a road and got bricks up there.”
In fact, there is an estimated 400,000 cubic metres of waste dumped onto this land, according to reports provided by Quebec’s Minister of the Environment. When the ministry granted G&R its permit to open a recycling centre in 2015, it capped the amount of waste it could store at 27,000 cubic metres.
This means that currently, G&R has about 15 times more waste on its site than is legally permitted – the equivalent of 160 Olympic-sized swimming pools, filled with industrial refuse.
The video addressed the fact that companies from outside the territory have been authorized by the owners of the site, Robert and Gary Gabriel, to essentially use the land as a dump.
Whereas most Quebec companies must register with the Registraire des Entreprises du Quebec, G&R has completely disregarded this rule. It has allowed them to keep information about companies using the site confidential.
Two sources who asked to remain anonymous from the north shore construction industry said it is an open secret that if you want to get rid of waste for cheap and with few questions asked, you take it to “the Mohawks.”
While the normal price for a load is around $300, G&R charges half the price for the same amount, according to the sources.
The Quebec government recently announced its intention to withdraw the license, as reported in The Eastern Door last week.
The notice issued on Friday, August 28 by the ministry de l’Environnement et de la Lutte Contre Les Changements Climatiques, stated that due to a breach of the conditions imposed by the Quebec Environment Quality Act, the company faced the revocation of their permit.
This came shortly after an unknown leakage was found in Gratton’s creek, a small body of water that flows from G&R into the Lake of Two Mountains.
On December 9, 2019, an order was issued to cease the release of leachate – contaminated water – into the environment. But on the first weekend of August, farmers and other volunteers were forced to piled up sandbags and hay bales to block the leak.
The nature of the spill still remains confidential under the Quebec government report. Environment Quebec spokesperson Frederick Fournier, confirmed that G&R has until September 13 to answer the notice and make its own observations, whereupon the ministry will decide whether or not to revoke their permit.