The Wheelhouse in downtown Dresden was packed on Saturday afternoon, February 10, 2024, for a community meeting about a proposed waste facility expansion project just outside of town.
Officials with York1 Environmental Waste Solutions Ltd. hosted the meeting, which included immediate local neighbours to the site, located on Irish School Road, along with Municipality of Chatham-Kent administration, Councillors Jamie McGrail and Rhonda Jubenville and media among the approximate 100 people in attendance.
York1 officials fielded questions from the audience throughout the two-plus hour, town-hall style meeting.
The questions focused primarily on materials they’d be accepting, water, air and other environmental concerns, traffic the project would cause, additional land uses and future plans, among others.
George Kirchmair, the vice president of environmental services at York1, provided a presentation at the meeting and answered the questions from those in attendance.
“We’re very pleased that you came here to find out more about us and what we have planned,” Kirchmair told the crowd.
“This is a voluntary community engagement. We’re not in a process yet of public consultation through the process that prescribes it, but we’re very happy to hold this event and the next event and future events to ensure we engage the town of Dresden.”
Here is a look at some of the slides from Kirchmair’s presentation:
Several residents picketed outside The Wheelhouse during the meeting, displaying signs with wording such as “Don’t Dump on Dresden” and “York1: The Grinch That Stolen Christmas Town.”
The Sydenham Current caught up with Councillor McGrail at The Wheelhouse following the meeting.
McGrail said she is thankful to everyone that came out and showed their support.
“I think it’s very clear that Dresden is concerned about this proposal and moving there is a lot of conversation (to be had),” McGrail said.
“There was some really great questions and again, I’m thankful for all who attend here today, who were mostly very civil to each other and they listened. That’s the first thing we need to do is listen… listen to the proposal and to the facts. I thank Dresden for showing up and having that class.”
Staying united and patient moving ahead is key, McGrail added.
“I think going forward right now, it’s really imperative that we work together on this and we all get on the Provincial website and leave our comments because that is going to the Ministry directly,” she said.
“That is our first line of defense. The Municipality is taking this very seriously and I know it is not immediate answers, but we are taking this seriously and we are gathering our facts, dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s and I beg for a little bit of patience as we work through this.”
Here are some more photos from the February 10, 2024 meeting:
As previously reported, York1 officials say their Regenerative Recycling Facilities (RRFs) are meticulously designed and operated to ensure minimal impact on local residents and the surrounding environment.
York1 officials say their plans call for the full remediation of the existing facility along Irish School Road, including the introduction of engineered cells to house all existing landfill.
The facility will be primarily focused on construction materials, will not accept hazardous materials and stringent measures, including advanced technologies and strict adherence to regulations, will mitigate any concerns around odours and contaminations, York1 officials added.
The Mississauga-based company says they are committed to building a long-lasting presence in Chatham-Kent, adding the new facility would generate jobs and provide opportunities to actively engage with the community through educational programs and outreach efforts, as well as community partnerships, local events, and charitable contributions.
More details can be found on the York1 website, here.
In a media release issued last week, Municipality of Chatham-Kent officials they are taking this matter very seriously.
“The Municipality understands and appreciates the concerns that have been raised from some community members,” Municipal officials said.
“The Municipality just received notice from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks that an application has been submitted for an amendment to an existing provincial environmental approval for this facility, which is currently owned and operated by York1 Environmental Waste Solutions Ltd. The property does hold existing provincial approvals for some waste processing and landfilling activities at the site.”
Municipal officials added: “Given that the notice was just received, administration is currently gathering additional information and will be seeking advice from technical experts regarding the application.”
Municipal officials said more details about the application are posted on the Province’s website, here: https://ero.ontario.ca/notice/019-8205
Anyone can submit online comments directly to the Province through this website by March 16, 2024, Municipal officials added.
York1 has organized a second community meeting to take place, scheduled for March 1, 2024.
The second meeting will have a 300-person capacity, with admission on a first-come, first served basis, and will be held at the Ken Houston Memorial Agricultural Centre, 1212 North Street, at 6 p.m.
“That facility can hold 300 people, so hopefully more people can come and listen,” Councillor McGrail told the Sydenham Current.
“I believe it will be the same format and then we go from there with some questions and answers. More people will be able to hear the word right out of the mouth.”
We’ll provide more details when they become available.