York1 says CK knew Dresden dump plans two years ago

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Ariel Summers, 11, right and Ava Summers-Lord, 9, were part of the crowd protesting during the York1 Environmental open house in Dresden Friday March 1.

York1 officials say they were talking with officials from the Municipality of Chatham-Kent about a proposal to revive the Dresden dump as early as Dec. 2021.

That from George Kirchmair, vice president of York1, during an open house meeting at the Ken Houston Memorial Agriculture Centre Friday night.

Kirchmair’s assertion, which he repeated over and over again as residents peppered him with questions about the project, is a far cry from what municipal officials have been saying about the controversial project.

York1’s proposal on the Environmental Registry of Ontario, outlines its plans for a Regenerative Recycling Facility for construction waste and soil on the property which holds a dormant landfill and most recently was used by Waste Wood Disposal to recycle wood from construction sites and turn them into wood chips.

About 20 acres of the 85-acre property on Irish School Road one kilometre north of Dresden and just south of the Lambton County Line, was approved in the past as a landfill. It was also used as a transfer site for construction and yard waste.

Land transfer records show the Dresden Tile Yard sold the land to the then Town of Dresden in 1979. The town received a landfill license Nov. 20, 1980 to dump it’s fly ash from the town’s garbage incinerator. The license said 95 per cent of what was to be landfilled would be the ash.

Just before amalgamation, the town sold the site to a numbered company owned by Mark Smith. He recycled wood from the site and had the landfill license expanded to include other types of waste. He was to bring only 75 tonnes of waste per day to the site.

York1, wants to expand that bringing up to 6,000 tonnes of soil and waste a day from construction and demolition sites to be either recycled or landfilled at the old Dresden dump. York1 says up to 1,000 tonnes of waste could be landfilled daily. Chatham-Kent officials said there is “no capacity now” for any waste there.

The operation, York1’s proposal says, would run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The company wants to build a modern, 1.62 million square meter landfill site and a regenerative recycling facility, complete with a 21,000 square foot building to sort and store the construction waste.

The company’s proposal for the recycling and transfer site says up to 700 trucks could enter the site daily.

Friday night, hundreds of concerned residents came out to hear what exactly the Mississauga environmental and construction company has planned. Many were disappointed to find the company wouldn’t be giving a presentation, but instead residents would have to speak to company officials spread around the room talking about different aspects of the proposal. One woman suggested it was like a “glorified science fair.”

Kerry Mall questions York1 Vice President George Kirchmair about the expansion of the dormant Dresden dump Friday March 1.

Among the York1 representatives was Kirchmair and he was on the defensive. “We’re not creating a new waste disposal site, this is an existing site…it’s been here 50 years,” told residents.

Then someone in the crowd asked him why the company had not been in contact with the municipality, Kirchmair said it had – two years ago.

“When did you talk to (Chatham-Kent Mayor) Darrin Canniff and the council?” asked a man in the crowd

“December 2021,” said Kirchmair

“What was your discussion with him at that date?” another woman asked

“That we’re interested in coming to this town and buying an existing waste disposal site,” Kirchmair said.

“For what purpose? Did you share that with him?” the woman continued her questions.

“For exactly what we’re doing…they didn’t say don’t buy it,” he said.

But the crowd was skeptical noting just five days earlier, Canniff angrily said York1 had not involved the municipality. “There has been zero communication and they’re trying to shove this down our throat,” Canniff said during the Feb. 26th meeting which council called on the province to reject the York1 proposal. “They’re not treating us as partners at all in this; zero, zip, zelch,” he said angrily adding the people of Dresden had been treated with “disrespect.”

At the arena, several residents asked Kirchmair “Whose telling the truth?”

“We approached the municipality in 2021; we’ve had numerous discussions,” the York1 VP, said adding the agents of the former owner “definitely approached us to buy this” and the municipality and York1 officials had “several conversations” about the proposal since the company first approached the municipality in 2021 – a full year before it officially bought the land.

Canniff was not available immediately to comment. Friends of the mayor in the crowd said he was in India.

In a social media post, North Kent Councillor Rhonda Jubenville addressed Kirchmair’s statements. “I do know there was some confusing and mixed messaging coming from York1 tonight. Just to confirm, to date, York1 has NOT come to CK Council to discuss their plans or to make applications or to put forth asks or to offer incentives.”

While some people in the crowd peppered Kirchmair with questions, others stood in the centre of the room wondering when or if someone was going to address the crowd. The Independent talked to several people who either couldn’t hear any of the conversation in the noisy room or who didn’t understand who would be able to answer their questions.

Just outside the arena doors, volunteers from the group Dresden C.A.R.E.D. (Citizens Against Reckless Environmental Disposal) were busy with a petition against the proposal reboot of the waste transfer station and landfill. Organizers had a printer on hand printing out more forms as they filled. Eventually, the printer ink ran out and arena staff printed out more sheets for the petition.

During the meeting Kirchmair said it was likely there would be another public meeting on the proposal.

Citizens have until March 16 to comment on the plan to expand the waste recycling and transfer station at the Environmental Registry of Ontario and until April 14 to comment on the revival of the landfill.