Ministry wants Walker to spend more time on concerns
The Ministry of the Environment wants Walker Environmental Group to spend more time addressing community concerns about the proposed landfill for Zorra Township and include more detail in its Terms of Reference for the project.
In a 12-page document dated July 5, provincial MOE special project officer Michelle Whitmore reviewed the draft Terms of Reference (ToR) received by the ministry May 23 and points out areas of the plan that require more information.
Whitmore's report points out specifically that “given the significant public input on this project and concerns raised, the ministry recommends that Walker take additional time before the anticipated July final submission of the ToR to ensure that all concerns raised are adequately addressed.”
The document “strongly encourages (Walker) to take the time to work directly with concerned citizens and CELA (Canadian Environmental Law Association) to discuss how any outstanding concerns can be better addressed in the proposed ToR.”
“Even the ministry is telling Walker they haven't addressed all of the concerns that we as concerned citizens have pointed out to them throughout the past year,” Steve McSwiggan, chairperson for Oxford People Against the Landfill (OPAL) Alliance, said in a press release.
OPAL received copies of the report and supporting reports from technical experts and has posted them on its website www.opalalliance.ca.
According to OPAL's press release, McSwiggan believes the ministry's report indicates the draft ToR is inadequate.
“It leaves out key studies and is so vague in details that OPAL feels it doesn’t meet requirements laid out by the MOE.”
Walker Environmental Group general manager Joe Lyng said the extent of the detail in the ministry's comments was expected and the company is currently working through each of the recommendations.
“I don't think there was anything that was odd (pointed out in the review),” said Lyng.
He said when the company prepared its draft report, the detailed information was to be included in attachments at the back of the document. The ministry has asked for summaries to be included in the main portion of the ToR.
“For the lay person picking up the document, it'll make more sense,” Lyng said.
He said Walker is also responding to the comments provided by the various groups that had input, such as the Community Liaison Committee and the Joint Municipal Coordinating Committee peer review group.
“Where we can, we want to be able to provide an understanding of where we're coming from,” said Lyng.
What was not included in the draft, but is now one of the studies to be included in the ToR is a human health risk assessment. Lyng said this came out of input from the public and it was agreed such an assessment would add value to the ToR. The draft workplan for this portion of the project studies is now posted on Walker's website www.walkerea.com with the 11 other technical workplans that cover areas from archeology to traffic.
“Just because the comment period for the draft terms of reference is over, it doesn't mean we aren't listening anymore,” he said.
The revised copy of the ToR is expected to be posted by the end of August and following that, there will be a 60-day public comment period – an extension from the previous 30-day period that came from public input.