LPAT hearing finished on Colacem cement plant project

Gregg Chamberlain
EAP
A provincial review hearing on a controversial cement plant project near L’Orignal is finished and both sides must now wait for the verdict.

“Thank you all for your submissions,” said Nicholas Robinson, chairman for the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) overseeing the hearing on Case PL170756, which concerns the proposed Colacem cement project east of L’Orignal. “And to everyone in the community.”

The LPAT hearing on the Colacem case began November 9 and continued for three weeks until November 25, with a break in the online proceedings November 11. The hearing continued December 10, 11, 16, and 18, with the final day occupied with summary arguments by legal representatives for the appellants, Colacem Canada and Action Champlain.

Chairman Robinson will consider arguments from both sides on the issue concerning a zoning application by Colacem to allow construction of a $225 million cement plant adjacent to its quarry operation located along County Road 17 several kilometres east of L’Orignal.

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 appealed the township’s decision and Action Champlain, a local citizens group, appealed 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.

“Rural areas can have (land) uses that are more intense,” said Chris Barnett, Colacem legal counsel, during his case summary. He also cited statements by Louis Prévost, UCPR planning director, in his report on the company’s zoning request, that “the site is ideal for this kind of use”.

Barnett argued that the company’s proposal meets the updated provincial planning policy guidelines which require designs safeguards against any adverse effects so that they “are to be avoided or mitigated.” He also noted that the company’s plan is “a science-based response” to concerns about noise, dust, and other potential impacts on the local environment and that any violation would be subject to government censure.

Action Champlain legal representatives Gabriel Poliquin and Ronald Caza both argued that Colacem’s concept design for the proposed cement plant is flawed.

“Not all the ‘i’s’ have been dotted, and not all the ‘t’s’ have been crossed,” said Poliquin, describing some of the company’s support studies on noise control and other issues as “an incomplete job, a rush job” and without enough detail on mitigation and protection measures.

“You have not been provided with adequate information on the impact to the quarry if the cement plant is approved,” said Caza to Chairman Robinson. “The cement plant and the quarry are one operation. They cannot be considered separate from each other. A lot of the (company’s) evidence was incomplete.”

“Action Champlain asks the tribunal to reject the appellant (Colacem) outright,” said Poliquin.

The case is now adjourned while Robinson reviews the arguments and evidence from both sides before announcing his decision. An LPAT hearing report sometimes takes up to 90 days to complete.