Big bucks for Buurma legal fight at Normal Farm Practice Protection Board

A pile of biosolids in Dawn-Euphemia in 2016 when the municipality first had complaints about the government approved fertilizer.

Heather Wright/The Independent

Brooke-Alvinston has shelled out over $125,000 so far to defend its bylaws which limit the storage of biomass fertilizer.

In April 2020, David Buurma appealed to the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board to look at the bylaws of Brooke-Alvinston, Dawn-Euphemia and Warwick Township which were limiting the director of Lasalle Agri from storing the fertilizer made from human waste on fields in the region.

All three municipalities have similar bylaws which allow farmers to store as much fertilizer as they need for the field there for a short period of time.

But politicians fielded dozens of complaints as Buurma Acres stored fertilizer at its Churchill Line farm in a concrete bunker there. The company, which owns about 5,000 acres, also left material in large piles on fields they owned to be used months later. The municipalities all gave warnings saying the piles were in violation of their bylaws.
Buurma told the Normal Farm Practice Board storing the fertilizer central is a normal farm practice.

The three municipalities disagreed and hired Environmental Lawyer Peter Pickfield.

Over the course of a year, Brooke-Alvinston has been getting the legal bills with the intent of sharing the costs with Dawn-Euphemia and Warwick when the matter is settled.

Since April, when the appeal was filed, the bills have accumulated with The Independent tabulating a total of $128,260.72 in bills in the monthly accounts listing of Brooke-Alvinston, to cover the costs associated with the now completed hearing.

Warwick Township has also paid about $12,500 in legal fees sent directly to the township, according to officials there.

The decision is expected in the next month. It can be appealed and that would incur even more legal costs for the municipalities. Once all the legal actions are completed, the municipalities will divide the costs three ways.