The Chatham-Kent Civic Centre is seen in this September 15, 2014 file photo. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)The Chatham-Kent Civic Centre. (File photo)

CK Council to fight proposed landfill

In a surprise addition to Monday night's agenda, CK Council voted unanimously to fight against any type of "waste processing, storage, or transfer facility" proposal just north of Dresden.

Ryan Jacques the Director of Planning Services for Chatham-Kent spoke to council following the evening's planned agenda, and shared some information his team had gathered about a proposed landfill on Irish School Road.

The property in question is in a predominantly agricultural area that is close to the 4th Concession Outlet Drain and Molly's Creek, which flow into the Sydenham River. It's also near several homes and businesses.

Jacques noted that the site has a unique history.

"There are several environmental approvals given by the province of Ontario that apply to this site," he explained.

The first, given under the Environmental Protection Act in October 1998 which still exists today, concerns waste storage, transfer, and processing. The Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) specifies that the site can store a maximum of 75 tonnes of non-hazardous solid waste on two acres.

The second existing ECA was given in 1980 and specifies the limits of a landfill on the property. The rules say that there can be "an 8 hectare landfilling site within a total site area of 35 hectares." It also says that the composition of waste allowed on the site can be 5 per cent commercial and the other 95 per cent is limited to incinerator ash.

"In 1972, the town of Dresden opened a garbage incinerator at another site nearby, west of town, and reports indicate that ash from that site was brought to this site and tipped in the landfill here," Jacques noted.

York1 Environmental Waste Solutions Ltd. bought the property on December 15, 2022, as well as farmland to the north and south. The company, which has operations across the country, has made applications to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks (MECP) for amendments to the existing ECAs on the site.

The proposed amendments to the waste storage, transfer and processing ECA would increase the size of the landfill from 0.8 hectares to 25 hectares and raise the daily waste receiving rate from 75 tonnes to 6,000 tonnes. It would also seek to install buildings and equipment on land that isn't currently zoned for it and permit operations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Notice of this application was given to the Municipality of Chatham-Kent on January 29, 2023.

The proposal is open to the public for comment until March 16.

Amendments to the waste disposal site ECA include increasing the capacity of the landfill to over 1.6 million cubic metres and adding non-hazardous industrial, commercial, institutional, and municipal demolition and construction materials and non-hazardous contaminated soil as types of waste permitted at the site. Chatham-Kent was informed of this application on February 26, 2024. The public can comment on it until April 11.

Ward 4 Councillor Jamie McGrail has previously encouraged residents to speak up against the project and continues to call for action.

York1 did hold an information meeting for Dresden residents on February 10 regarding the project. A second meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday, March 1 at the Ken Houston Memorial Agricultural Centre in Dresden.

After Jacques' presentation, she and fellow Ward 4 Councillor Rhonda Jubenville gave a notice of motion about the proposed landfill, which was promptly expedited and dealt with Monday night.

The motion, which passed unanimously, calls for the province to reject York1's applications and if the government isn't willing to do so, CK Council wants "the Minister to designate the project for a full EA process to remove any doubt that the EA study process is required for the application."

The motion also calls on Mayor Darrin Canniff to write a letter to the Minister of Environment, Conservation, and Parks about the community concerns and Council's opposition to these proposals and directs municipal administration to make submissions to the province in opposition to the applications.

McGrail called these the first steps toward making this go away entirely.

"This is the will of Dresden and Dresden-area. No doubt," she added.

Councillor Steve Pinsonneault voiced his concerns about the fact that the site drains into Molly's Creek.

"This has potential for real environmental issues from leaching. The Sydenham River, where this water will end has several species at risk and that could be detrimental," he said, adding that the area's infrastructure isn't capable of withstanding the amount of truck traffic this landfill will bring.

"In order for this to go forward we should be a willing community, and we're not," Pinsonneault concluded.

Mayor Canniff agreed that the municipality doesn't want this project to go forward and expressed anger at the lack of respect shown to the people of Chatham-Kent by York1.

"There's significant environmental issues, transportation issues... the location, a kilometre from Dresden... they come in, and we find out about it through a filing through the province," Canniff stated. "And on top of all that, they don't offer as much as 10 cents of community benefits. The nerve they have coming into our community to do that!"

He added that York1 has been less than forthcoming about their plans.

"There's been zero communication," he said, adding that Chatham-Kent might have given the proposal some thought if York1 had approached things differently. "Based on how they've come in and treated Dresden, surrounding areas, and Chatham-Kent with disrespect, I don't blame a single person for not supporting it."

"I'm glad that it's been brought to the forefront that council hasn't had much knowledge about this," Jubenville said before the vote took place. "I just want people from Dresden, the surrounding community, and Chatham-Kent to know that we're doing what we can."

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