Minister of the Environment orders full Environmental Assessment of Dresden dump proposal

The entrance to York1's property north of Dresden. The company hopes to run a recycling centre for construction waste there.

Dresden citizens group ‘relieved’

There is relief in Dresden after the announcement that the plan to revive the dormant Dresden dump will be subject to a full Environmental Assessment.

Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, Andrea Khanjin released a statement on the social media platform X late Friday announcing the highest level of review for landfills under the Environmental Assessment Act for a Mississauga company’s plan to bring up to 6,000 tonnes of construction and soil waste to recycle or landfill to the dump which had been dormant for decades.

York1 Environmental Waste Solutions said from the beginning they had found a “unique” property, which had already been approved in the 1980s as a landfill. It filed for an expansion of the existing landfill approval under the less stringent Environmental Compliance Approval process to construct a new 20-acre landfill included in the project.

The plan drew a large public outcry from politicians in both Chatham-Kent and nearby Lambton County. Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff, in a letter to the minister eariler this month said it appeared the province would “allow a decision on a major waste facility with a provincial scale and serious future consequences to our municipality be exempt from current approval requirements based on outdated historical approvals from a bygone environmental regime.”

Friday, Khanjin said that wasn’t going to happen.

“In recent weeks, I have heard concerns raised by the local community and municipality regarding York1’s proposal to reopen and expand a dormant landfill,” the minister wrote on X.

“This site was established over 40 years ago, prior to ONtario’s requirement that landfills undergo an environmental Assessment. In keeping with the process that any other landfill would be required to undergo today, I will be taking steps to require this project to complete a comprehensive Environmental Assessment under the Environmental Assessment Act.

“This would require this site to address local community concerns and mitigate potential impacts before it could open.”

Members of a citizens group formed to try to stop York1’s plan are “relieved” there will be a full review.

Wendy Vercauteren of Dresden CARED says they’re “quite happy” the minister ordered and Environmental Assessment. “Ultimately, we still do not want the landfill, but we are feeling relieved that there will have to be an environmental assessment.”

Saturday is the final day to submit comments about the waste transfer and recycling centre on the Environmental Registry of Ontario. Chatham-Kent filed its response to York1’s plan Friday calling for a full Environmental Assessment of York1’s plans.

“The proponent’s approach to municipal and community consultation on the proposal has
been entirely inadequate, a surprising approach given the scale and implications of the
proposal for nearby residents and the community,” the submission from Chatham-Kent states.

“York1 submitted the two applications for environmental approval to your ministry for approval without any advance notice, let alone consultation with local residents and the community. This approach is improper and problematic for two reasons: (1) the applications have been prepared without the benefit of any information or comment from the local community or the Municipality on the proposal; and (2) local residents who would be directly impacted if the proposal were
approved have learned about the proposal after the fact and been left to scrounge for
information to understand its potential implications.”

The submission says that not only have residents not been informed about the project, information to public officials “appears to have been minimal or non-existent.”

And the municipality said there are a number of very important areas which York1 has not yet addressed in its consultants briefs to the ministry.

“Neither report references any existing supporting studies in the key potential impact areas of noise, air quality, natural heritage features and function and traffic impacts. The absence of a traffic study is a glaring oversight: the proposal would potentially introduce to the local road network trucks carrying over two and a half million tonnes of waste and recyclable materials per year to the proposed facility,” the brief says.

And Chatham-Kent says under the province’s own rules, the York1 proposal requires a full Environmental Assessment. The ministry’s regulation say any landfill larger than 100,000 cubic meters is subject to an Environmental Assessment. York1’s proposal is for a 1.6 million cubic meter landfill.

The municipality added York1 is “seeking to rely on outdated historical waste approvals for a small-scale local landfill and processing area granted decades ago with minimal study to justify a stripped-down environmental and planning approval process for a major waste facility with a province-wide scope and broad ranging long-term implications for the surrounding community.”

Lambton County also submitted an opinion on York1’s proposal to the Environmental Registry of Ontario. It was not yet available to the public.