On November 24 and 25, the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) conducted the final two days of testimony by expert witnesses in the hearing into the 2017 decisions by the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) council to approve an Official Plan Amendment (OPA), and by Champlain Township council to reject a Zoning By-law Amendment (ZBA) that would have permitted Colacem Canada to build a new cement plant at the site of the company’s existing quarry on Highway 17 near L’Orignal.

On November 24, Chris Barnett, the legal counsel representing Colacem, cross-examined Brian Sulley, an expert witness on air quality who was retained by Action Champlain, the organization opposed to the proposed cement plant.

Much of Barnett’s questioning of Sulley was related to the environmental studies done by Golder Associates for Colacem.

“Can you think of potential adverse effects missing in the models Golder used?” asked Barnett.

Sulley stated that the potential effects of the quarry were not “explicitly modelled” in the Golder studies.

However, Sulley said that he had no concerns about the modelling that was done by Sean Capstick of Golder and stated that the studies were appropriate with respect to the function of the proposed cement plant.

Sulley testified that Golder correctly applied updated 2020 federal and provincial air quality standards in its studies and that the modelling in those studies did not indicate that air quality standards were not being met.  He said that any indications of non-compliance should be fixed before consent is given to build the plant.

However, Sulley did say he would like to see more details regarding dust management at the quarry.  He said that the Aggregate Resources Act has prescribed standards that apply to those sites.

“Generally, the intent is that dust is to be mitigated on site.  Whether or not that is done is a separate conversation,” Sulley said.

After Barnett’s questioning of Sulley concluded, Action Champlain counsel Gabriel Poliquin questioned environmental planner George McKibbon, who was retained by Action Champlain to scrutinize the Golder studies.

McKibbon began by explaining that the Golder study does not discuss any possibility of a causal relationship between cement plants and cancer.

While discussing the modelling used by Golder, McKibbon said that private residences, an organic farm, and a church near the plant site are what he called sensitive uses.

McKibbon contended that there are similarities and differences between the buffers around cement plant site and the nearby Ivaco Rolling Mills site.  However, special uses are not permitted within 300 metres of the Ivaco plant, but existing special use properties already exist within 300 metres of the Colacem property.

“So, the buffer doesn’t really work in that respect,” said McKibbon.

He said that buffer zones are generally determined on a case-by-case basis depending on studies and municipal setback requirements but noted it is difficult to reconcile industrial and residential uses in the same area.

McKibbon said that the Golder studies did not sufficiently or comprehensively address the varying land uses in the area and that the Provincial Policy Statement on land use planning requires that uses be coordinated.

On November 25, Barnett conducted a short cross-examination of McKibbon.

McKibbon explained that the cement plant is outside of the quarry area regulated by the Aggregate Resources Act and therefore not subjected to the same regulations that apply to the quarry.  He also denied Barnett’s allegation that there needed to be unanimous consensus among the studies on the proposed cement plant in order to permit it to be constructed.

The hearing adjourned and will resume on December 10 and will hear from participants who include members of the public and organizations that have registered to speak.  On December 16, Colacem will reply to the participants submissions, and final submissions will be made on December 18.

When it resumes, the LPAT hearing can be viewed online using zoom at: https://zoom.us/j/94960499576?pwd=VDBhc2F5R3hFQ1M4cFd5bFVCTkVnQT09  The meeting ID# is 949 6049 9576 and the passcode is 921288.  The hearing can be followed on Youtube at  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxDAcq6BD8wgOUfSV-yGVRA/videos , and by phone at 1-833 548 0276.