Author of the article:

Ellwood Shreve

Published Mar 02, 2024  •  5 minute read

Dresden, York1, landfill, recycling
George Kirchmair, left, vice-president of environment for York 1 Environmental Waste Solutions, is seen here discussion the company’s proposed recycling and landfill project with residents during an open house on Friday night. PHOTO Ellwood Shreve/Postmedia jpg, CD, apsmc

A proposal by York1 Environmental Waste Solutions to develop a regenerative recycling facility and landfill to bring in thousands of tonnes non-hazardous materials to a dormant landfill site just one-kilometre north of Dresden has raised the ire of residents as well as Chatham-Kent council, who have loudly stated their opposition. The Chatham Daily News spoke with George Kirchmair, a vice-president with York1 and point-person for the project.

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Note: Answers have been edited for length.

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Q  Does the fact that Chatham-Kent council and local citizens are vehemently opposed to this proposal has any bearing on the company moving forward?

A  I’m not sure at this time. We’re going to have to see. We’re surprised by the statements from council and Chatham-Kent. Obviously, the community is different. We’ve embarked on this process of community engagement and will continue to do so. Everything is a process. We had to start first from due diligence and then from the provincial permitting process, which is what we’re still in now. Our plan is to be an upstanding member of the community. We look to bring employment here. We think the recycling concept that we’ve outlined is really forward-thinking and good for this community and good for Ontario. I think if we’re given a chance people will see that.

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Q  Mayor Darrin Canniff has sent a letter from council to the environment minister asking for this project to be rejected, but if not, to at least have a full environmental assessment. Would York1 be agreeable to that?

A  Possibly, but to let you know the EA process does not apply to recycling facilities. That’s a process for landfills. We have two different applications; one is a recycling facility much along the lines of what the predecessor company was doing at the site although on a smaller scale – wood waste disposal. That’s something York does and believes very strongly in doing. I don’t think it makes sense for anyone to ask to apply an EA process to a recycling facility of wood. We’ll have further conversations with the municipality, we look forward to that.

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Q  What are your plans for the two properties York1 owns to the north and south of the Irish School Road site?

A  Both properties were purchased so that we control our boundaries. We don’t have any plans for it to be a waste location. We’ve asked the municipality if we could talk to them about what Dresden needs there. Is there light industry or employment that could be sought out to come there? For the next few years it’s definitely going to be farmland and if the municipality says this would really be good for employment lands of this nature, to have nothing to do with landfill or recycling, than that’s what we would look to do and help develop that.

What measures will York1 take to address environmental concerns, particularly with water runoff and groundwater?

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A lot of historically approved waste processing sites or waste disposal sites didn’t have storm water management systems put in. Now, no matter where you are, if you do an update the environment ministry wants you to put a 2024 state-of-the-art storm water management system in place. The new water management system will be far better than what’s existing on the property now. It will be an engineered storm water management plan. The water will be gathered and processed through a storm water management system that’s been vetted and approved by third-party engineers and by the Ministry of the Environment.

Q  Chatham-Kent has stated it does not have the capacity to accept any leachate from the site. How does York1 plan to address that situation?

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Internally in a landfill is leachate and that’s water that seeps down through the soil covering the landfill. It’s collected by a separate system. This is a very small site and landfill; it would be about a truckload a day. If Chatham-Kent does not want this we’ll go to other wastewater treatment plants. We certainly know of several others further away that will take the water.

Q  Looking at concerns raised about increase traffic, how much truck traffic does York1 anticipate will come to the site?

A  An application to amend a permit is not something we do often. We’re looking into the future so some of the volumes, tonnages outlined as the maximum limits of the amended permits are fairly high. Those are just the upper ranges. I think initially the amount of truck traffic is going to be way smaller than what’s outlined in the request in the permit amendment. In terms of a final number, we’re going to do a traffic study and refine that number and make sure the roads can handle it.

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Q  Do you have alternative truck route planned to avoid going through urban areas?

A  We definitely do not want any truck traffic to go through the (Dresden) town core coming up from the south. That’s not our plan, so we’ll manage that. In terms of alternative routes, I have to wait for the traffic study.

Q  Where will the entrance to the site be located?

A  We’re open to moving the entrance. We are going to talk to our local neighbours, the residents right around our entrance and determine, in discussions with them, what they think is best. The land to the north, in my mind, is a very good location for an alternative entrance, because we do own 50 acres to the north and in that area there is no houses across or beside that 50 acre parcel.

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The Province of Ontario has stated a goal of building 1.5 million new homes in the next decade and that will create a lot of construction waste. Has this prompted the provincial government to request York 1 to develop this type recycling of facility?

 I don’t know if the province has looked that far ahead, but the one thing that we see is that a lot of construction waste doesn’t get sorted and it just goes to landfill. This recycling facility, I think is a really good thing for the province and communities that have construction waste. I think when people see what we build and how we’re successfully recycling materials, it might actually lead to regulatory changes where it forces more recycling in this way.

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