Author of the article:

Ellwood Shreve

Published Mar 02, 2024  •  3 minute read

Dresden, York1, landfill, recycling facility
Dresden resident Kerry Mall, right, is seen here pressing a point about a proposed recycling and landfill facility with George Kirchmair, middle, vice-president of environmental with York1 Enviromental Waste Solutions during an open house Friday night in Dresden. PHOTO Ellwood Shreve/Postmedia jpg, CD, apsmc

DRESDEN – The format for an open house to discuss a proposed recycling and landfill project one kilometre north of here left many in attendance frustrated.

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Toronto-area company York 1 Environmental Waste Solutions set up five stations Friday night where people could ask questions about such topics as recycling operations, ground water and hydrogeology and proposed improvements to the existing landfill site.

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However, it was noisy as people crowded inside the Ken Houston Memorial Agricultural Centre and the stations were crowded.

“It didn’t feel like a very effective way to have a conversation,” said local pastor Chris Quiring. “You couldn’t hear over the din of everyone talking.”

He added having five different stations “felt a little bit disarming as opposed to being open and honest.”

Dresden resident Lois Shaw said, “There should have been 300 people that could sit down, ask their questions and have somebody on a microphone reply.”

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Shaw said she didn’t get the answers she was looking for because “I can’t even hear the people.”

Sandra Ennett, who lives near the York1 property, has serious concerns about the recycling process for such items as concrete and gypsum from drywall could potentially impact the health of those living nearby.

“This is dodging to me,” she said of the meeting format, adding company officials don’t give have to give answers that everyone can hear.

Chatham Coun. Michael Bondy called the meeting a “sham.

“There’s no way for an individual to ask a great question and everybody in attendance to hear the answer,” he added.

George Kirchmair, York1’s vice-president of environmental, said a venue could only be found to allow 100 people to attend a town hall style meeting held last month.

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He added the meeting lasted three hours and the feedback was he was the only who spoke and people wanted to hear from experts.

Taking that feedback, Kirchmair said York1 brought in experts such as hydrogeologists and engineers who designing the project along with recycling experts.

Noting there’s never a perfect meeting, Kirchmair said, “We are definitely engaged with the community” and the company plans to have more meetings.
“If the format of the next (meeting) is better served as a town hall, we’ll certainly do that and have a larger venue,” he added.

There are numerous concerns by many residents over York1’s plans to amend the existing provincial permits on the 35-hectare (86 acre) site of a dormant waste disposal facility at 29831 Irish School Rd. (formerly Highway 21) to include a regenerative recycling facility to accept up to 6,000 tonnes a day of non-hazardous solid waste, including construction and demolition waste and excess soil for beneficial reuse.

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The company also has a second application to amend the landfill permit to create an eight hectare (20 acre) landfill with a maximum fill rate of 365,000 tonnes a year, an average of 1,000 tonnes a day.

Quiring is “extremely concerned” about the potential impacts on Dresden.

“To have a waste treatment facility this close . . . is ridiculous,” he added.

Noting through his many conversations with the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) staff, Quiring has learned York1 doesn’t have to go to Chatham-Kent council for approval to expand anything they want to do on the 35-hectare property that has prior approvals from the ministry.

It all runs through the MECP’s environmental permissions department for approval, he said.

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Personally, Quiring feels this process is a little dishonest, because Dresden doesn’t have a sitting MPP in the riding of Lambton-Kent-Middlesex to advocate to the provincial government on the community’s behalf with the recent retirement of Monte McNaughton.

“It just so happens that this application comes through when we have no voice in provincial parliament,” Quiring said.

Kerry Mall, a local developer in Dresden, believes York 1 is trying to get through the back door by not wanting to have an environmental assessment on the site.

Mall, who spent several minutes pressing Kirchmair for answers, was frustrated by the process.

“They’re giving us the same, repeated answers” about it already being an approved facility, he said.

“The community’s not happy with that . . . they’re not getting any answers,” he added.

Richard Woudwyk, who lives near Dresden, said, “I know this was grandfathered in, but grandfather’s die.”

Woudwyk said he doesn’t have anything against recycling.

“I think it’s an awesome idea.”

But, Woudwyk is concerned about the impact truck traffic coming to the site will have on the Dresden area, especially being a farm community where there is already tractors on the road during different times of the year.

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