L’Orignal Cement Plant Finds Opposition from Federal NDP Candidate

Christopher Smith
Christopher Smith
EAP
It started with the community, and now the proposed cement plant in L’Original will become a federal election issue.

Opposition against Colacem’s proposed cement plant has caught the attention of federal NDP candidate Konstantine Malakos. He’s put the issue on his campaign platform and embedded a petition from  Action Champlain into his website. Action Champlain is the L’Orignal-based community group that opposes the project and tried to stop it through an appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.

“Climate change is an existential crisis,” said Malakos, regarding his opposition to the cement plant project, “and concrete has very negative impacts on the environment.”

Malakos noted that though Colacem submitted an environmental assessment back in 2016, standards have changed since.

“Even the judge presiding over the case acknowledged there were many problems with it,” said Malakos. He further cited the impact on the Kanesatake First Nation, which would see runoff and waste from the plant be swept downriver into their territory.

Malakos also cited tourism as a factor, stating that the tourist industry in L’Orignal has already been declining. If the project goes forward, it would require increased activity in the nearby quarry to supply raw materials, meaning an increase in dynamite blasting, crushing, and more heavy machinery. There would also be a 410-foot-tall chimney dispersing pollution over a very large area.

When asked what should have been done, Malakos was very critical of the inactivity shown by MP Francis Drouin for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell.

“He hasn’t really handled the situation,” said Malakos, adding that the MP could have intervened. “It’s been an ongoing issue for 10 years, and he’s been in office for six years and remained silent on the issue.  If he had deferred to municipal governments and zoning laws, he could have opened discussions with local mayors during the zoning process. He could have gotten the Fisheries Minister involved right away, as it does affect interprovincial waters. The Fisheries Act could have stopped them.”

“He also could have started conversations with the Kanesatake nation,” said Malakos, who has spoken with both previous Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon of the Kanesatake and current Grand Chief Victor Bonspille. He said Drouin could have done the same.

“Only at the 11th hour has [Drouin] written a letter that was relatively weak, and beyond that has done nothing,” said Malakos. “He’s chosen to stay out of the issue except for now that the election is on the horizon. He had plenty of time to get involved if he actually cared.”

When asked how community members can get involved, Malakos cited the Action Champlain protest on Tuesday, August 17 at 4 p.m. “I hope to see people come out in large numbers,” he said. The protest takes place at the Colacem Canada office at 56 Longeuil Street in L’Orignal.