Champlain council’s letter asking Ontario Premier Doug Ford to review the Colacem cement plant file has changed nothing.

Council had asked the premier to revoke the province’s approval for the L’Orignal cement plant. Council was aware of a similar situation where Ford declared that a quarry project would be stopped because the people didn’t want it.

In July 2020, Ford said “I am not in favour of [the Campbellville quarry]. I believe in governing for the people. And when the people don’t want something you don’t do it. It’s very simple. I know the Mayor doesn’t want it, no one wants it. I don’t want it. We are going to make sure it doesn’t happen one way or another.” Those words from the premier are contained in a July 2021 article about a protest which culminated in a petition being presented at the local MPP’s office, asking Ford to keep his promise.

Champlain Township’s resolution also asked the provincial Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) to request a new Environmental Compliance Approval for Colacem, based on the combined impact of the cement plant and quarry operations.

Champlain Township received a reply from David Piccini, the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks which simply outlined the studies and LPAT (Local Planning Appeal Tribunal) activities to date. The letter essentially states that the Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) for the cement plant was issued because the proposal “followed ministry procedures to show compliance with all applicable requirements, including air discharge requirements in Ontario Regulation 419/05:  Air Pollution – Local Air Quality.” According to the minister, “the cement plant, when built and operated in accordance with the ECA and its supporting documents, would not and should not cause an adverse effect.)

Volunteer-driven Action Champlain raised about $400,000 as part of its efforts to fight the cement plant.

The adjudicator at recent Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) appeals (appeals were filed before the OMB became the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal) ruled in favour of the cement plant.

Action Champlain had originally appealed the decision of the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, which approved a zoning change to permit the plant to proceed. But Colacem filed its own appeal against Champlain Township’s decision to not approve the necessary zoning change. Both appeals were heard at the same time in February 2021.

When the township decided to send Premier Ford a letter, L’Orignal ward councillor André Roy said he felt this situation paralleled the one Ford referred to in July 2020 and said, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

At the January 13, 2022 council meeting, Roy said he was disappointed. “I find it disappointing that Premier Ford would support people from his area but not from our area.”