Environmental issues were a concern for many residents protesting a proposed concrete batch plant on Valde Avenue near Day Street.
At a public hearing on the JC Paving plant at East Kildonan-Transcona Community Committee on Oct. 15, the bulk of the opponents’ complaints had to do with the potential effects of dust on nearby residents, Transcona Trail users, and the Transcona Bioreserve, located just to the west of the proposed plant on the old Domtar site.
Coun. Russ Wyatt (Transcona) ultimately decided to deny the West St. Paul-based company’s application to subdivide and rezone its property on Valde Avenue just west of Day Street, saying there wasn’t enough information available regarding the environmental impact of the proposed plant.
"It’s not impossible to do these types of things in a community, but clearly, they got off on the wrong foot," Wyatt said during the meeting. "There’s work that needs to be done in terms of the environmental parts of this application."
Residents feared silica in the dust would cause diseases such as silicosis and lung cancer. As well, they worried dust settling in the Bioreserve could have ramifications for wildlife and plants. They were also disappointed the project would be approximately 250 metres from their property lines, citing examples of the standards set by other provinces. For example, they brought up the point that Regina requires at least a 500-metre buffer between residences and hazardous waste facilities where materials are stored outside.
During the meeting, in addition to JC Paving vice-president Tony Teixeira’s presentation, the company also brought out Brian Miller of Miller Environmental Corporation as he hoped to alleviate residents’ concerns. When Miller took to the podium, Wyatt questioned why he was making an environmentally-based presentation at a land use hearing, though he let Miller proceed with his presentation.
However, when opponents of the project received their turn to speak, they also brought up several environmental points, bringing to the forefront how big of an issue such points were.
In addition to those who spoke, numerous others registered their opposition with the city at the meeting, but did not speak.
Larche Avenue West resident Kim Poitras, one of the plant’s strongest opponents, was the first to speak in opposition, and presented the committee with a petition with approximately 1,700 signatures opposing the project.
Wyatt was concerned that the public hearing would be the residents’ only chance to present their concerns on record to government. Whether approved or denied, the application moves up the ladder to various civic committees. If the project were approved by council, it would need to gain environmental approval from the Province of Manitoba, where Wyatt said a public hearing was unlikely to be held.
Wyatt said as he gave his decision that the process seems backward to him.
"We are creatures of the provincial government as a city, as a municipality. The provincial government says first have your land use, and then come to us for the environmental license," Wyatt said. "It seems to be in reverse, that the environmental license comes after the land use decision.
"In many ways, the issues you hear on issues like this tend to be environmental in nature."