“It’s the first I’ve heard about it” says Ford about outcry over plan to expand dormant Dresden dump

Premier Doug Ford at a news conference in Essex March 11, 2024.

“It’s the first I’ve heard about it.”

That from Ontario Premier Doug Ford March 11 when he was asked about the rising concerns over York1 Environmental Waste Solution’s plans to revive a dormant dump in Dresden.

The Mississauga company wants to take the former tile yard turned dump into a modern landfill and create a construction and soil waste recycling centre on the Irish School Road property. It has several proposals before the Ministry of the Environment now, including one which outlines the scope of the activity on the site. York1 says up to 700 trucks per day could arrive at the site carrying up to 6,000 tonnes of waste and soil daily.

The proposal has drawn a huge outcry with hundreds of people from Dresden – which is just one kilometre from the site – attending public meetings and mounting opposition to the proposal.

Chatham-Kent council voted unanimously to oppose the York1 plan. Mayor Darrin Canniff wrote a letter to the Minister of the Environment Feb. 29, saying York1 is “trying to establish new recycling and landfill uses without full study by hitchhiking on outdated, historic ministry approvals issued decades ago. Those historic approvals were for very narrow uses serving the local area, that had limited impacts on surrounding properties and our community.

“We understand ministry staff to date have accepted some of the arguments of the owners, that this is only an expansion of existing facilities. Chatham-Kent strongly disagrees with this approach; what is being proposed here is the establishment of a new large-scale recycling and landfill facility with a province-wide service area.”

Lambton County councillors voiced their the proposal during its March 6 meeting. County staff is working with consultants to get more information about the proposal.

Dawn-Euphemia Mayor Al Broad says he had been in touch with Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey as his community opposes York1’s plan. The proposed dump is actually in the Lambton-Kent-Middlesex riding, however the riding is currently without an MPP.

March 11, the Premier was asked about his thoughts on the proposal during a news conference in Essex County.

“I gotta apologize,” Ford said. “This is a first I’ve heard about it. I’m sure (Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP) Trevor (Jones) knows all about it.

Ford said he will talk with Jones about the issue and then added. “I believe in if the people like something, we do it; if they don’t, we don’t do it. It’s as simple as that. But let’s have a chat; there might be other reasons.”

Meantime, Lambton-Kent-Middlesex federal MP Lianne Rood has also been fielding calls about the proposal. “Many constituents have written or called my office in outrage, fearing the repercussions of the expansion,” she said in a news release.

Rood said while the federal government doesn’t have jurisdiction over the siting of landfills nor their expansions she wanted to “amplify” the voices of the community to be heard by the Ontario government.

The MP said she’s written to the mayor of Chatham-Kent and the Minister of the Environment asking them to “facilitate discussions with the community, council and York1.

“I have also stressed the importance for them to jointly spread awareness of the sensitivity of the environmental concerns arising from this project that could impact public health.”

Rood added she hopes the provincial and municipal government “can work together with the community of Dresden to provide solutions to this matter that are beneficial to all.”