A question from a resident to East Hawkesbury council led to an update on the situation involving construction waste dumped on property near St-Eugène.

In 2019, the owners of the illegal dump site on the former Royal Air Force base land south of the village missed a deadline to remove a large amount of construction waste that had been dumped on the site. The waste remains on the property. Resident Lee Willems attended the East Hawkesbury council meeting on March 13 2023 and expressed his concerns about the waste remaining at the site.

“We’re concerned about it too and we’re working on it,” responded Mayor Robert Kirby.

“We don’t want the taxpayers of East Hawkesbury to foot the bill,” he added.

Kirby said a meeting was held between the township and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks (MECP) in late February about the situation.

Chief Administrative Officer Luc Lalonde, said that when material began being transported to the site in 2018, Chief Building Official and Bylaw Enforcement Officer Jessy Hoffman advised the then-owners of the property about that the material should not be dumped there. Lalonde said the township has copies of those letters, which were sent to the owner and to the contractor who transported the material to the site. He said the MECP was also advised of the situation in early 2018. After that time, material was still being brought to the site.

“It came in at night, so we had no way to see it,” Lalonde said.

Willems disagreed.

“No, it didn’t come in at night, I watched it. It came in during the day, all day,” he said.

Willems said he is concerned about waste being trucked in along the Concession 1 service road and alleged it is also being dumped in the former Villeneuve sand pit.

Lalonde said both sites were reported to the MECP because it is their responsibility. He said regulating the transport of the material is outside township jurisdiction. He noted he again reported it to the ministry on March 13 when he saw truck traffic along the service road.

Kirby said township representatives recently spoke with Minister of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks David Piccini about the situation.

“We met with the Minister in Toronto. The Minister was very surprised this was taking place,” remarked Kirby.

He said the Minister had not been updated told them there should be a periodic check of trucks on Highway 417 for material to be illegally dumped in East Hawkesbury.

Since 2019, the township has owned the former air force base site near St-Eugène where the material has been dumped. However, it does not own the waste material. Kirby said he has no intention of leaving taxpayers on the hook for the cleanup cost.

“There’s ongoing discussion, and the intention of council is not to pay, that’s where we’re at,” he said.

Lalonde said some details of the situation cannot be disclosed because there are matters before the courts.