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Chatham accuses Toronto company of 'hitch-hiking' old permits to expand a landfill in Dresden

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York1 Environmental Waste Solutions is asking for provincial approval to expand a landfill and to create a regenerative recycling facility.

The company purchased 29831 Irish School Road in 2022 because it was permitted for both uses as far back as the 1970’s, according to their spokesperson.

“You can’t unzone an existing landfill or an existing waste disposal site,” York1 Vice President Environmental George Kirchmair tells CTV News. “My understanding is it falls under a caveat thats’ called legal non-conforming zoning.”

Yet municipal planner Ryan Jacques told council on Feb. 26 the opposite.

“Landfill and the waste transfer and processing site are not permitted uses in the zoning bylaw, therefore planning act approvals by Chatham-Kent would be required,” Jacques told council in a briefing.

“Sometime during amalgamation, when they (the municipality) updated zoning bylaws, they may have overlooked that those existing uses were in effect at the site,” Kirchmair says.

The contested bylaw and zoning for 29831 Irish School Road has led Mayor Darrin Canniff to write a terse letter to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) in which he accuses York1 of “hitchhiking” outdated approvals.

“Those historic approvals were for very narrow uses serving the local area, that had limited impacts on surrounding properties and our community,” Canniff writes.

He says Chatham-Kent “strongly disagrees” with York1’s argument that they are expanding existing facilities; not creating a new one.

Canniff is asking MECP Minister Andrea Khanjin to dismiss both of York1’s applications or, to force the company to go through a full environmental assessment.

“As things stand, your Ministry appears to be prepared to allow a decision on a major waste facility with a provincial scale and serious future consequences to our municipality be exempt from current approval requirements based on outdated historical approvals from a bygone environmental regime,” Canniff writes to the Minister.

In a statement, MECP officals said they will consider all comments recieved during the public consulation phase of York1's proposals.

"Before re-establishing operations at the site, York1 will need to obtain appropriate approvals so that operations are protective of the environment and the public," the MCEP wrote in a statement to CTV News Windsor. 

In response, residents have also set up a website called Dresden CARED (Citizens Against Reckless Environmental Disposal). 

The first and second applications now before the MECP can be found online.

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