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From The Review files: This is a screen shot from a video produced by Colacem showing what its proposed cement plant might look like.

Presenters make their case to LPAT cement plant hearing

The Ontario Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) hearing into the proposed Colacem cement plant near L’Orignal resumed on December 10 and heard a series of presentations from residents and other individuals who were against or in support of the development.

The LPAT hearing is the result of two appeals by opposing parties.  Action Champlain, an organization of citizens and environmental groups opposed to the cement plant, launched an appeal of the Official Plan Amendment (OPA) approved by the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) council that was required for the cement plant to be built.  Colacem launched its appeal of the Zoning By-law Amendment (ZBA) that was required for the cement plant to be built but was rejected by Champlain Township council.

Patrick Lalonde, who has taken over his family’s farm and owns a physiotherapy clinic in L’Orignal, referred to the description of the rural landscape in the UCPR Official Plan and said that based on that, the cement plant should not be built.

“I will not sleep with windows open to the sound of stone crushers at night,” Lalonde said.

Normand Bergevin of Embrun said that members of his family have owned properties on Bay Road since the 1950s.  He was concerned about lighting and noise in the area.

Dr. Daniel Cloutier (PhD) of Champlain Township presented considerable scientific knowledge to justify his opposition to the cement plant.  He argued that the air emissions from the facility would contain 65 different major pollutants.

Colacem legal counsel Chris Barnett asked Cloutier to acknowledge that he is not an expert on cement plants but is rather a retired research scientist.  Barnett alleged that Cloutier had no “academic expertise” as a basis for his disagreement with the plant proposal.

Gary Champagne of Ottawa, but formerly of L’Orignal, was especially critical of how the UCPR council approved the OPA.  He criticized the weighted voting system which gives some mayors more influence than others, based on their municipalities’ populations. Champagne alleged that Colacem made donations to municipalities.

“No conflicts of interest were ever indicated,” he said.

Champagne called the UCPR public consultation process on the proposed cement plant a “sham” and said that citizen concerns were only treated as anecdotal.

L’Orignal Packing owner Christine Bonneau-O’Neill, whose meatpacking business is located one kilometre from the plant site, said that she was concerned about how the plant could affect water quality in the area, which could result in negative effects on her products.

Marcel Clément-Deschalets of L’Orignal said that the weighted vote system on UCPR council benefits the more populous municipalities, especially in Russell County and puts lower population municipalities in Prescott county at a disadvantage when major planning decisions are made.

Clément said that the recent settlement over the Kilmar plant “should have been the red light,” to stop the L’Orignal plant.  He also alleged that no proper financial evaluation of the proposed plant has been done.

On December 10 and 11, Luc Riopel, who lives on a property bordering the Colacem property, referred to the black snow that residents near the Kilmar plant had on their properties due to dust emissions.

“It’s really noisy” Riopel said about rock crushing at the quarry.  He said that previous owners used to notify nearby residents before blasting took place but alleged that Colacem no longer does that.

Riopel showed numerous photos and videos of dust that he believes originated from the quarry accumulating on his property.

“You can’t keep windows open; you can’t put clothes on the clothesline,” he said.

Barnett questioned Riopel about both sets of documents he filed with the tribunal containing his arguments against the cement plant.  Barnett asked that Riopel’s claim that a member of Colacem’s management was connected to the mafia and had served a prison sentence be redacted from the documents.  Tribunal Chair Nicholas Robinson agreed to allow Barnett’s office to make the redactions.  Action Champlain counsel Gabriel Poliquin and UCPR counsel Greg Meeds agreed.

Jim Walsh of L’Orignal was the only presenter to speak in support of the cement plant.

“My support of the cement plant is for economic benefits as a whole,” he said.

Walsh claimed that the plant would bring $6.5 million in local tax revenue that could be used to improve local infrastructure.

L’Orignal business owner André Chabot spoke against the cement plant but faced questioning from Barnett because he was perceived as a spokesman for Action Champlain even though the hearing has already heard from expert witnesses.  Chabot said that he had been part of Action Champlain but was not their official representative for the hearing.

The LPAT hearing resumes on December 16 at 10 am.

The hearing can be viewed on Zoom at https://zoom.us/j/94960499576?pwd=VDBhc2F5R3hFQ1M4cFd5bFVCTkVnQT09#success .

The Meeting ID# is 949 6049 9576.  The Passcode is 921288.

The hearing can also be viewed on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxDAcq6BD8wgOUfSV-yGVRA/videos

 

 

 

 

James Morgan

James Morgan is a freelance contributor. He has worked for several print and broadcast media outlets. James loves the history, natural beauty, and people of eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

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