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Port Hope council denies garbage incinerator applications

Todd McEwen

PORT HOPE — Well, bring on the Ontario Municipal Board.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, council denied the applications for a proposed Wesleyville garbage incinerator.

Entech-REM previously applied to change the zoning bylaw and municipality’s official plan in order to build an energy-from-waste facility on a 23-acre site in Wesleyville.

Now, the ball is in Entech-REM’s court.

Council has predicted the company will file an appeal on the decision with the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), considering the municipality’s director of planning recommended council approved the applications.

The OMB examines individual cases from a planning perspective, considering whether an application meets provincial land policies and the principles of good planning.

Northumberland News’s calls to Entech-REM for comment were not returned by press deadline.

“I feel very hopeful that REM will not pursue the OMB,” said Councillor Mary Lou Ellis, chairman of the planning committee. “I would hope they know this will not be a good fit for our community and they will try and find a more suitable location.”

“I like to remain hopeful on that,” she said, referring to them not appealing the OMB. “I’m hoping when the (health) studies that the Ministry of Environment are working on come forward, we’ll have a more complete picture and I’m sure (Entech-REM) will too.”

“I’m just happy this part’s done,” she said. “They now clearly know how this municipality and this council stand on that issue.”

“I just want to thank all of you for making this decision tonight,” resident Sarah Sculthorpe told council. “As an individual, as a mother, as a grandmother, as a farmer, as a business owner and as a resident of this amazing municipality, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”

Many residents were singing a different tune at a public meeting the previous Thursday.

The meeting attracted about 300 people, about 40 of whom blasted not only the four representatives of Entech-REM who attended, but the municipality’s council and staff, accused of not having the best interest of the residents in mind.

“We’re now in the middle of a billion-dollar (radioactive waste) cleanup, when the leaders of Port Hope simply were not aware of the dangers,” resident Terry Hickey said, referring to the historic low-level radioactive waste left behind by Eldorado Nuclear Ltd. “This council, our current leadership, cannot be unaware of the multiple dangers this project brings to Port Hope. To allow REM to proceed, flies in the face of the phrase once bitten, twice shy, or in this case, stunned.”

Throughout the night, many residents challenged the director of planning’s latest report on the matter, which supported the applications.

Ron Warne and the planning staff’s first recommendation was to defer the applications until the provincial environment screening review has been completed, with the second advising council to approve the applications and place a holding provision on the lands, which suspends any development until the health reports and Ministry of Environment studies are completed.

“Staff are of the opinion that the proposed development represents an appropriate use of the subject lands,” Mr. Warne wrote in the report.

At this point, the future of Wesleyville is still up in the air.

“Go to the OMB, I’m not afraid,” resident Siobahn Kenny said at the public meeting. “The only people who should be afraid of the OMB are the four men (of Entech-REM) sitting at that table.”

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