The hearing has begun on the controversial cement plant project that Colacem Canada wants to build east of L’Orignal. The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal hearing on the project is taking place by teleconference because of the pandemic. Interested individuals can watch the proceedings on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxDAcq6BD8wgOUfSV-yGVRA/videos. Above, Colacem's current facilities in L'Orignal
The hearing has begun on the controversial cement plant project that Colacem Canada wants to build east of L’Orignal. The Local Planning Appeal Tribunal hearing on the project is taking place by teleconference because of the pandemic. Interested individuals can watch the proceedings on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxDAcq6BD8wgOUfSV-yGVRA/videos. Above, Colacem's current facilities in L'Orignal

Hearing begins on Colacem cement plant proposal

Gregg Chamberlain
EAP
The first week is over on the three-week provincial hearing on a controversial cement plant project near L’Orignal.

The Ontario Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) hearing on Case PL170756, which concerns the proposed Colacem cement project east of L’Orignal, began November 9. The hearing will continue until November 25. Supplementary hearing dates are scheduled for December 10, 11, 16, and 18, if needed.

UNE VERSION EN FRANÇAIS DE CET ARTICLE A ÉTÉ PUBLIÉ EN PAGE 3 DU CARILLON DU 19 NOVEMBRE 2020

The opening day of the teleconference session featured a summary of the issue.

Colacem Canada, which is now owned by Béton Provincial of Québec, wants to develop a $225 million cement plant operation on its existing property located along County Road 17, several kilometres east of the Village of L’Orignal in Champlain Township. The site has a quarry that would serve as the source for limestone to make cement and also provide water for cooling the plant kiln during the cement-making process.

The company applied to Champlain Township for a zoning bylaw amendment and to the United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR) for an Official Plan amendment (OP) to allow construction of the cement plant. The UCPR approved Colacem’s OP amendment application but the township rejected the zoning bylaw amendment request.

Colacem is appealing the township’s decision. A local citizens group, Action Champlain, is appealing the UCPR’s decision. Action Champlain represents area residents who are concerned about the effect a cement plant would have on air quality in the area, the noise impact from its operation, and the potential increase in truck traffic on the county road at the cement plant’s location.

Preliminary evidence

About two dozen neighbouring homes and farm operations are located with a kilometre distance of the proposed cement plant site.

The UCPR planning department recommendation for approval of Colacem’s OP amendment application was based on reports received on traffic safety, environmental impact, groundwater studies, air pollution and noise emission potential. An archaeological background study was also done to determine if there was any evidence that the area was a former First Nations dwelling site.

UCPR planning department reported all the reports went through peer reviews with other agencies, including the South Nation Conservation Authority, with no objections received. UCPR council approved the recommendation for the OP amendment.

Chris Barnett, Colacem legal counsel, argued that the township’s rejection of the rezoning amendment request was based on public opposition and not on factual evidence.

Cement plant project

Colacem Canada has a 56-hectare property along County Road 17, several kilometres east of L’Orignal. The site has a quarry that would provide limestone as the main ingredient for making cement. The limestone is mixed with silica sand for crushing to a fine powder, then heated in a kiln to produce a molten substance called clinker.

The clinker is allowed to cool and then mixed and crushed with other materials to produce different varieties of cement. Company projections for the proposed cement plant estimate 3 million tones per year of cement material produced at the plant.

Petroleum coke (pet coke) would fuel the kiln at the plant. Some of the future truck traffic at the site, if the cement plant is built, would deal with deliveries of pet coke for fuelling the kiln. Company projections indicate truck traffic in and out of the site would range from five to 14 vehicles an hour. The plant kiln would not operate 24 hours a day though there would be night-time truck traffic for the pet coke deliveries.

Project impact

Construction of the cement plant would provide 200 jobs over a two- or three-year period. The plant, when it begins operation, would provide 125 permanent jobs.

During the first week of the hearing, Gabriel Poliquin and Ronald Caza, legal counsel for Action Champlain questioned Colacem witnesses from the consultant firm, Golder and Associates, regarding amount of particle emissions and dust that could result from the cement plant’s operations, including increased quarrying of limestone, and whether the company’s projections of those emissions was accurate and met provincial standards.

Serge Simon, Grand Chief for the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake, has also sent a letter to the UCPR expressing concern about the downstream impact of a cement plant operation on traditional hunting and fishing activities for his community.

The LPAT hearing continues Monday to Friday, starting at 10 a.m.,, and is expected to finish December 4. It is available for public viewing by Zoom at https://zoom.us/j/97505929893?pwd=TlhjTjVBZ1ZyWmE4TkxjZlZwY1lTZz09. The Zoom teleconference ID is 975 0592 9893, and the passcode is 856658.

The hearing is also available through Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxDAcq6BD8wgOUfSV-yGVRA/videos, or by phone, toll-free at 1-647-374-4685 from within Canada, and 1-888-475-4499 toll-free in the United States.