Tribunal challenging Oxford Net Zero plan postponed until Friday morning at 10 a.m.

By Heather Rivers, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

The Oxford County Administration building in Woodstock.

The Oxford County Administration building in Woodstock.

A last-minute request for a one-day postponement of an OMB hearing, now called the local planning appeal tribunal, challenging Oxford’s official plan was granted Wednesday.

“I was surprised because it was so last minute,” said Bryan Smith, president of Oxford People Against Landfill (OPAL). “There was less than 24-hours notice.”

Smith said due to the change in timing, he will be unable to attend the opening of the tribunal.

The tribunal is designed so Walker Environmental, who requested the postponement due to an illness, can challenge three areas of amendment 197 of the county’s official plan.

The amendment discourages and restricts any landfill facility in the county that is not primarily to meet the needs of the county.

The company says the amendment was prepared solely in response to Walker's Southwest Landfill Proposal and runs counter to provincial policy.

“That is a key element of our appeal,” said Darren Fry, project director of Southwestern Landfill Environmental Assessment. “We believe good policy in land use planning is key to efficiency and forward thinking for a county. We participated in consultations on the community sustainability plan and provided comments. We support the community sustainability plan.”

The company is seeking approval to construct and operate a landfill in a mined limestone quarry owned by Carmeuse Lime near Ingersoll, which is currently undergoing the environmental assessment process.

“The reason we appealed the three policies is to seek greater clarity on how the policies co-ordinate with provincial policies and processes we have to follow,” Fry said. “As an example there are elements in the amendment or other duplications that are inconsistent with provincial policy.”

Oxford County’s lawyer Peter Pickfield said he will be defending the amendment.

“We have an official amendment 197, which we think strengthens the solid waste management policies of the county in a manner consistent with the principals of the existing official plan,” he said. “The county will be at the hearing with evidence and submissions to support council’s decision.”

The hearing is expected to last 10 days and will include presentations by Walker, the County of Oxford, as well as OPAL who is represented by the Canadian Environmental Law Association.

The tribunal, which takes place at the County of Oxford building in Woodstock, is open to the public.