Clarington still hungry for Environmental Assessment for Anaerobic Digestion Facility

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Published November 3, 2021 at 5:03 pm

Clarington is still hot for a full environmental assessment to be conducted before the Anaerobic Digestion Facility proposed by the Region of Durham for south Courtice can go any further, and at least councillor is concerned staff may not be as warm to the idea as Council.

Council declared themselves as “unwilling hosts” of the proposed facility in July 2020 and demanded the environment ministry conduct a full Environmental Assessment on the project. The ministry clapped back that fall and asked that Clarington provide “clear reasoning” the EA was justified and to prove they have tried to resolve the issue with Durham Region.

One year later and the municipality is no further ahead and Ward 3 Councillor Corinna Trail, who is on record calling the proposed facility a “rotten food factory,” is unhappy the motion before Council Monday had two options – the Environmental Assessment and a request that the Province intervene based on the neighbourhood’s Provincially Significant Employment Zone designation – and that local “interested parties” were not kept apprised of developments in the issue.

“The options are contrary to what Council clearly wanted,” she said, adding that the motion seemed to “discourage” the demand for the EA. Trail also took Acting Planning Director Kaye Langmaid to task over not keeping several groups up to speed.

Langmaid, for her part, said she was never given clear direction on what kind of response was expected, which is why the two options were provided. As for not keeping other interested parties in the loop? “My bad,” she said.

Anaerobic Digestion facilities compost organic waste and produce a renewable natural gas (methane) with very little emissions or strong odours. It has long been in use in Europe and has recently gained favour around the GTA as the best way for municipalities to meet their emission targets.

The preferred site for the facility is on Courtice Road South, on lands owned by the Region and right next to the $300 million boondoggle that is the Durham-York Energy Centre, an incinerator that is already nearing capacity just four years after opening. It’s also near the planned site of the new headquarters for Ontario Power Generation and not far from where a future Courtice waterfront park and GO station will be.

Regional Councillor Joe Neal, who proposed the motion, said the facility will likely mean the end of the municipality’s dream of a waterfront park for the Courtice community.

“This is our last best chance,” he said.

The new facility will remove non-combustible material and recyclables from garbage currently sent to the incinerator and would allow pet waste and dirty diapers to be put in green bins – diverting even more waste from landfills.

The motion to ask for a full EA and to ask the Province to step in on the employment zone grounds was carried, with $50,000 set aside for consultant fees to prepare the formal request.

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