Champlain Township council rejected a zoning change back in 2017 that was required to build the cement plant, adhering to the community’s opinion that such a plant was not wanted. The United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) approved Colacem’s request for a change to the Official Plan that would allow the cement plant operation. The case ended up with a ruling by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) that allows Colacem Canada to go ahead with its project.
As part of the planning process, Colacem had to get an environmental impact assessment for the plant, which went through and allowed the company to continue with its project planning. On September 9, Champlain Township council held an in-camera meeting during which council members approved a resolution to ask the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks rescind this assessment and do a new one.
“[I hope] That the new study will show exactly what the truth will be in regard to noise, because the study was only done on the cement plant side of the operation not including the quarry,” said Mayor Normand Riopel. “There are definitely some numbers missing.”
The township argues that the initial assessment only looked at the environmental impact of the concrete plant itself, not the impact of the plant and the quarry combined. Quarry activity would have to increase to meet the demands of the proposed plant, and so the combined impact could be more than either the quarry or the plant on their own.
The request for a new assessment was drafted and sent to David Paccini, minister of environment, conservation and parks, on September 21. It was also sent to Premier Doug Ford, MP Francis Drouin, MPP Amanda Simard, and the other seven municipalities in the UCPR.
“I have not, no,” said Mayor Riopel, when asked if he had heard anything back yet from Paccini, Ford, Drouin, or Simard, He also hasn’t heard back from any of the UCPR municipalities, but he expects news from them soon.
“They’ve just received their letters after their monthly meeting, so I think October will be very busy for them,” he said. “I expect some news in that regards sometime in October.”
Residents of L’Orignal have opposed the construction of Colacem’s proposed cement plant for years. The company has a limestone quarry a few kilometres away from the village, and constructing a concrete plant is a logical step for operation expansion. This would mean more heavy vehicle traffic and blasting in the area, along with erection of a 410-foot-tall smokestack that could affect the viewscape.