Letter to David Ramsay, Minister of Natural Resources: Please Help Us Keep Halton Recycling Out of French River! — An Opinion

Dear Minister Ramsay,

I am a resident of Noëlville. I would like to draw your attention to a matter of great concern to the citizens of the Municipality of French River. Bylaw 2007-41 rezones a parcel of land from a Rural area to a Waste Disposal area. Halton Recycling Ltd. has entered into negotiations with the owners of the private properties which form the rezoned area to purchase the said land and open a composting plant on the site. Two issues in particular require your immediate action.

First, a year ago, Halton Recycling received a court order to close its recycling plant in Newmarket for two years to remedy the foul odour the plant causes. Testimony from several Newmarket residents has shown that Halton is not yet in compliance with the court order. Please note that the proposed waste management site in the French River area is currently planned as a composting plant. Residents fear worse odours than those experienced in Newmarket as well as continued opposition from Halton.

Second, it appears that the rezoned area comprises a Natural Heritage feature. According to the Sudbury East Planning Board’s Official Plan (Schedule D), approximately a quarter of the rezoned land is designated as a Natural Heritage site. The Natural Heritage designation identifies lands that are recognised as containing one or more of the following significant or sensitive natural features or functions: Natural or Scientific Interest, Wetlands, Fish Habitat, and Wildlife Habitat.

I have been searching for additional information regarding this particular site and the possible implications of rezoning a Natural Heritage feature. Through my research, I have discovered that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s Land Use Planning Provincial Policy Statement protects natural features and areas for the long-term (Section 2.1.1). Section 2.1.3.b of the said document states that development and site alteration shall not be permitted in significant wetlands in Ecoregion 5E (where French River is located). Moreover, Section 2.1.6 indicates that development and site alteration shall not be permitted in adjacent lands to the Natural Heritage features and areas identified above unless the ecological function of the adjacent lands has been evaluated and it has been demonstrated that there will be no negative impacts on the natural features or on their ecological functions.

I have been unable to locate information regarding this particular Natural Heritage feature. I was able to find, through the Natural Heritage Information Centre, that there are two Natural Heritage features in Haddo county (whereas the Sudbury East Planning Board’s Official Plan shows six Natural Heritage features), neither of which are the one shown on the Sudbury East Planning Board’s Official Plan. I have been able to confirm that one of these sites, Loudon Peat Bog (Area ID 10708), was designated as a Natural Heritage feature because it was identified as having significant wetlands. I am attempting to discover whether the definition of “adjacent lands” requires the adjacent land to be immediately next to the Natural Heritage feature in question, because evidently, the plethora of waterways in the French River district impact on ecosystems far removed from the immediate area. I estimate the location of the Natural Heritage feature in question to be 46°12’11.58″N, 80°25’25.42″W, while the coordinates of the Loudon Peat Bog are 46°15’38.67″N, 80°21’3.88″W. The distance between the two sites is not great; therefore, there may be ramifications on either ecosystems if the proposed waste disposal site is approved.

I have spoken with Jeff Kolibash of the Sudbury East Planning Board, who claims that there is no Natural Heritage feature in the rezoned parcel. I also contacted Scott Dingwall of the Ministry of Natural Resources’s Sudbury District Office. Scott has assured me that he will attempt to answer my questions within a week.

Minister Ramsay, I request that your office investigate these matters further. The residents of the Municipality of French River fear the negative impact a waste disposal area will have on tourism in the region, on the environment, and on our quality of life.

Thank you sincerely,
Julie Dupuis