Progress on the County of Simcoe’s Environmental Resource Recovery Centre project (ERRC) is churning slowly, especially now that a second appeal has been added to the project stack.
A Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT) case management conference between all parties involved was held Wednesday at the Township of Springwater Administration Centre in Midhurst.
However, by the end, the tribunal wasn’t any closer to setting hearing dates.
“We are five years now into the site-selection process. The county has spent well over $1 million getting to this point,” said Marshall Green, legal counsel for the County of Simcoe.
There is an existing appeal by two individuals and an environmental advocacy group on the location of the proposed structure.
While the Township of Springwater was granted party status at the hearing, since the last case management conference, circumstances have changed.
“Essentially the county submitted applications to the township for an Official Plan amendment (OPA) and a zoning-bylaw amendment (on the ERRC project). The township did not make a decision on those. Now, the county has appealed that non-decision to the LPAT,” said Nicole Audette, communications officer with the Township of Springwater.
Now that there is a second LPAT file on the same project, talks on Wednesday morning concerned whether the two files should be tried at the same time to avoid having to call the same witnesses, experts and interested parties to give the same information twice.
“There is a limit on tribunal resources,” said John Douglas, who oversaw the hearing. “It’s premature to make a decision to consolidate without having a better understanding of what’s going to happen in a case management conference in relation to the township OPA.”
Lawyers for the County of Simcoe, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the three different appellants and the Township of Springwater were present. The three appellants are the owners of Nicholyn Farms, which is adjacent to the Freele Tract, Edward Kracjir and local environmental advocacy group Friends of Simcoe Forests.
The ERRC project was first proposed by the County of Simcoe in 2010 as part of its waste management strategy. The facility would receive the county’s organics and recycling to be broken down into compost, fertilizer, or fuel for use in the county.
After the county said it considered more than 100 sites for the facility, they applied to the province for permission to build the compost and recycling facility in the middle of the Freele Tract of the Simcoe County Forest after receiving approval on the location from Simcoe County council.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing approved the county’s request earlier this year and granted an official plan amendment to allow the facility in the forest, which is north of Barrie in Springwater Township.
All three appellants have stated publicly they don’t oppose the ERRC project as a whole; they only oppose the site chosen by the county in the middle of Simcoe County Forest.
Arguments from all sides will be heard in full at the hearing. Dates for the hearing will be determined after the next case management conference date.
The case management conference was postponed until Dec. 13 via teleconference for the purposes of a status update between all parties.