Mississauga company pitches Regenerative Recycling Facility to Dresden neighbours
George Kirchmair says York1 has purchased 150 acres to the north and south of the old Dresden dump and is working on purchasing more land to east, to act as a buffer zone to its proposed Regenerative Recycling Facility.
Kirchmair, the vice president of Environmental Services for York1, spent two hours Saturday explaining the company’s plan to revive a long dormant landfill north of town. Company officials laid out their plans and answered questions for an hour-and-a half from the 100 people admitted to the The Rotary Wheelhouse in Dresden. Dozens more stood outside with protest signs.
Jan. 31, York1 Environmental Waste Solutions Ltd filed a proposal with the Ministry of the Environment to use and expand the old landfill on Irish School Road.
According to the proposal on the Environmental Registry of Ontario, about 20 acres of the 85-acre property was approved in the past as a landfill. York1, which has owned the property since 2022, wants to expand that bringing up to 6,000 tonnes of waste a day from construction and demolition sites and soils to be either recycled or landfilled at the site. The operation, the proposal says, would run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Kirchmair told the crowd the property is “unique” in that the Ministry of the Environment gave approval in 1979 for the site to be used as a landfill and a waste transfer station. And it’s close to the US.
Kirchmair says the plan is to bring construction waste into the site to be recycled in a “large building” it plans to erect. York1 would then ship out the recycled materials to other companies to use. For example, Kirchmair said shingles would be sent to the US where they are used as part of a road base.
York1 says the site will serve southern Ontario, but didn’t rule out bringing in waste from the Toronto area to be recycled. He did say doing so would reduce the profitability of the site.
Kirchmair says what wasn’t recyclable would be landfilled on the site.
A letter to the homeowners states the company plans to upgrade the landfill to current environmental standards including a compacted clay liner, a geomembrane line and a leachate collection and extraction system which would include a leachate pond. It would install monitoring wells to detect potential impacts from the landfill and “the maximum elevation of the landfill is …80 feet above the existing grade.”
That could mean for some neighbours, whose backyard abuts the landfill, the 80 foot berms would be 50 to 100 feet from their home and block much of the sun.
Kirchmair says the waste dumped on site in the 70s and 80s, including ash from the local garbage incinerator, would be dug up and placed in the newly constructed landfill.
The company reiterated multiple times the site was a landfill and recycling centre during Saturday’s meeting. Neighbours say the site – which most recently was used to recycle wood waste into wood chips bringing in only a couple of transports per week – hasn’t been used as a landfill in decades.
York1 officials did admit the amount of transport trucks would increase if the Ministry of the Environment approves its request. Kirchmair said he too was concerned about the amount of traffic, adding the company has hired a firm to complete a traffic study – something not required by the MOE in the Enivironmental Compliance Approval system.
And he says, York1 is considering moving the entrance for the facility to the north of the cluster of homes around the Irish School Road dump. The company has purchased a farm to the north and to the south of the dump site for a buffer zone with neighbours. He added the company is also in negotiations for a property to the east of the site.
When pressed by community members, Kirchmair said there are no plans to turn the land to the south into a landfill, although he did say if the municipality was interested, it may become an industrial park.
The plans for the land to the north were less clear, although Kirchmair said several times the company wanted a buffer zone between neighbours and the site. And he says it could be used to relocate the entrance to the property, although that would need municipal approval.
Dave Willson, who lived directly across from the gate of the facility, said neighbours would still have to deal with a massive increase in truck traffic on the road.
On the request for up to 6,000 tonnes of waste to arrive at the site daily; Kirchmair said the company is planning for the long-term – hoping to operate the site for 50 years – and it doesn’t want to return to the ministry to increase its capacity later so it has asked for more than it would use immediately.
Kirchmair said the company is also looking for “flexibility” asking for 24/7 operation hours from the province. He says most of their transfer facilities operate only as late as 7 pm.
The company could not say how many trucks would be coming to the area, nor did they say what route any truck traffic would take.
And Kirchmair acknowledged the concerns about groundwater issues saying the company would like to see the Municipality of Chatham-Kent extend a waterline to the area for both the facility and its neighbours.
While the meeting went on inside, dozens of people stood outside with signs reading “Don’t Dump on Dresden” and “Protect the Watershed.” Molly’s Creek runs behind the dump property and several people voiced concern any runoff from the site would go into the creek and eventually the Sydenham River.
While for the most part the protest was peaceful, as the meeting continued, a pickup truck with a large speaker in the back pulled up across the road from the meeting site, blaring Twisted Sister’s classic rock anthem ‘We’re not going to Take It.”
York1 has scheduled another community meeting for March 1 at the Dresden arena starting at 6 pm.
Residents have until March 16 to voice their concerns online at the Environmental Registry of Ontario.