Council grilled about Entech
It appears that at least two local citizen activist groups are keeping a very close watch on Port Hope Council and any decision it might reach about a proposal to build an energy-from-waste plant at Wesleyville.
Both the Port Hope Ratepayers Association and Port Hope Residents 4 Managing Waste Responsibly had representatives at this week's Council meeting and, even though no applications or correspondence from Entech-REM were on the agenda, members of each group had questions for Council.
Entech-REM has submitted zoning bylaw and official plan amendment applications for the construction of a power generation facility — in its own words, a "gasification" plant — on property at 1516 Wesleyville Rd. However, these applications were not up for discussion — let alone decision — at this week's meeting.
Terry Hickey, on behalf of the Ratepayers Association, wanted to know whether Northumberland County (which administers waste management on behalf of all seven of its member-municipalities) had agreed to accept residual waste from the proposed plant.
Louise Blecher, a member of Port Hope Residents 4 Managing Waste Responsibly, asked whether Entech-REM already has agreements with the Ontario Power Authority to sell power to the Ontario grid and, if not, whether that would affect the municipality's decision to approve or disapprove the company's applications.
Both groups learned that Port Hope Council has the discretion to determine land use applications within the municipality without regard for how the applicant will flourish in the days, weeks and years to come.
Chief administrative officer Carl Cannon told Tuesday night's meeting that "independent approvals" are given by municipal, county and provincial authorities.
"Ours is planning approval," Cannon said.
In theory, he added, Entech-REM might obtain municipal approval for zoning and official plan amendments, completely apart from other approvals the company might need for carrying on business in accordance with its plans.
Mayor Linda Thompson added that approvals from the municipality, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ontario Power Authority are granted independently of one another.
Although Entech-REM maintains that the process is safe, Port Hope Residents 4 Managing Waste Responsibly counters that ash emitted from the proposed plant would pose dangers to persons, crops and animals within a wide radius of the installation.