Landfill expert answers leave more questions

By Tara Bowie, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

The site for a proposed landfill in the Beachville area.

The site for a proposed landfill in the Beachville area.

A day spent with a panel of experts left many members of the community liaison committee with more questions than answers about the Walker Environmental Group’s proposed landfill in Zorra Township.

The number one question in Mike Farlow’s mind Saturday afternoon was why wasn’t the public allowed to attend the meeting.

Farlow, a CLC member, said the committee had plans to rent the Beachville Legion to hold the meeting so the general public could attend but Walker Environmental wanted to have it at their office in Ingersoll.

He claims people were turned away from the meeting because there were not enough seats available.

“The bottom line is it was supposed to be marketed to the public,” he said. “We wanted the public to have a chance to ask the panel the questions they wanted to and that was not allowed. It makes you wonder why?”

“This isn’t an open and transparent process.”

A basement boardroom in the Carnegie Street offices of Walker was filled with about 35 people plus the expert panel during a day-long question and answer period. There was room for about a dozen members of the public. The room was predominantly filled with CLC members and their alternates.

Joe Lyng, Walker general manager, said the decision to hold the meeting at the office was made to ensure the in-depth questions had a chance to be answered.

He said the meeting was aimed at the CLC members and their alternates not the general public because the levels of questions would be more complex.

“They’ve invested so much time into this. Not only every meeting, but they are reading before hand,’ he said.

Lyng said having a large amount of the general public present might bog down the process, meaning the experts might not have had the chance to answer some important CLC questions.

The panel was made up of economic, social impact, air quality, ground water, surface water, agriculture, planning, and traffic experts among others.

Several questions posed before and after the lunch break dealt with how the dump and the vehicles coming in and out of the site would be kept out of view from neighbouring homes and roadways.

James Parkin, Walker’s visual land use consultant said many of the current views into Carmeuse Lime are unattractive.

He said there were different options that could block views but could not comment specifically about which ones would be used in this case because in depth studies have not been done.

“Some of the options are berms and planting trees at different stages of growth,” he said.

Other questions dealt with birds at the landfill and the proximity to airports in London, Tillsonburg and Woodstock.

Experts told the group that studies would have to either be completed or reviewed to see the trajectory of planes as they land at each airport.

Other questions revolved around the long-term plan for a Walker environmental campus that would include a 2,000-acre compost site, recycling site and other environmental-related businesses.

Lyng said at this point the only project Walker is working on is the landfill. He did say that there is an option with Carmeuse Lime to buy an additional 2,000 acres in the future, but at this time the focus is on getting the approvals for the dump.

“The landfill site is the most sensitive. If we’re going to include all the other great businesses … we have to start with the landfill because that is the cornerstone,” he said.

Lyng said he knew going in that bringing a landfill to the area would be met with resistance.

“I don’t think there are very many people that are going to say they want a landfill,” he said.

Walker is currently working on the terms of reference that will be used in its environmental assessment in the application it files to the Ministry of the Environment.

The terms of reference, if accepted by the ministry, will include the details of all the studies that need to be undertaken before a final approval could be granted.

Farlow says the CLC repeatedly requested a member of the ministry be present at the meeting held Saturday. No one from the ministry was present.

“We’re frustrated. They aren’t answering our questions,” he said.

Walker will hold a final required public meeting in the next few weeks and the terms of reference are expected complete by the end of May. A draft will then be posted online for a 30-day comment period with the final submission including the public’s new comments submitted by the end of July.

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