Carp cement plant passes LPAT test

CARP – It wasn’t the news many residents in the Carp Road corridor wanted to hear, but it isn’t the end for those fighting the construction of a concrete batching plant destined for the light industrial business park located in east West Carleton.

Since area residents first found out about a Cavanagh Construction proposed concrete batching plant for the Carp Road corridor located near an area between Carp Road and Oak Ridge Road near Richardson Side Road roughly two years ago, an organized group or nearby residents have been fighting the proposal tooth and nail.

The first hurdle for Thomas Cavanagh’s proposed 70-acre plant was to get the location re-zoned to approve the use. That happened March 27, 2019 (For West Carleton Online’s complete coverage on the issue, dating back three years, click here).

In October, 2019, a Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT) got underway after several West Carleton area residents opposed the zoning amendment approved by the City of Ottawa that would allow a concrete batching plant be built and operated by Cavanagh Construction within the Carp Road Corridor. That process was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The LPAT decisions was made on Oct. 26, 2020, and the decision did not go in the residents’ favour.

“We heard in late October LPAT was ruling against our appeal – we were very disappointed,” area resident and concrete plant opponent Ron Grabe told West Carleton Online last Tuesday (Jan. 26). “The LPAT presiding member that made the final decision to dismiss our appeal was Hugh S. Wilkins. The decision was communicated to us on Oct 26. It was a one-person tribunal, so there were no other opinions either concurring or dissenting. It is accurate to say the member’s decision to defer all environmental considerations entirely to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) Environmental Compliance Assessment process was not consistent with the opinion that had been stated at our preliminary hearing in late October, 2019 by a different presiding member.”  

Grabe feels the member at the preliminary hearing put much more stock in the group’s environmental concerns – Huntley Creek runs through the proposed location and is also the breeding ground of the redfin fish, a Species at Risk.

“That presiding official, (C.J. Bryson), actually rejected a Cavanagh motion to defer all environmental considerations to the MECP evaluations,” Grave said. “That presiding member stated the opinion that “of course” environmental considerations are relevant to a land planning appeal process and are routinely evaluated as part of any LPAT appeal.”

Grabe feels the ruling “seemed to ignore the main points of our case.”

The LPAT ruled heavy industrial (the area was previously zoned light industrial) was an acceptable use “the Carp Community Design Plan not withstanding.”

“That was a very difficult ruling to accept,” Grabe said. “It doesn’t make sense. You either comply with the community design plan or you don’t. If you don’t comply, why even have a plan?”

The main points of the opponent’s case involve the environmental impact on the area if the batching plant is built. The city’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee passed that responsibility to the province when recommending council approve the amendment. City council also passed the responsibility on to the province when approving the zoning amendment and now Grabe says LPAT has done the same thing.

“They deferred all environmental impacts to the MECP,” Grabe said. “If the MACP environmental impact assessments have no problem, the LPAT has no problem. They basically said it’s not our job, even if there’s a lot of precedent.”

Grabe said the LPAT ignored errors in the Cavanagh submission and ignored precedent for land use classifications as well as ignoring the impact of the 170-year-old cemetery across the street, the Huntley United Cemetery.

“Obviously, that was key to our case,” Grabe said.

The community opponents worked hard on their case even going through the Freedom of Information act to access the Cavanagh Construction’s submitted environmental impact reports.

“Cavanagh had bee fighting the released of these reports,” Grabe said. “We believe their other reports to the city contained significant technical errors. Last December the ministry ruled we should have these reports. The process is slow.”

Meanwhile, the LPAT ruling follows that of council’s and the rural affairs committee’s which put a holding provision in place on next steps until the ministry completes its environmental impact.

“We have the opportunity to provide input to that evaluation process,” Grabe said adding he hopes his team has Cavanagh’s reports by that time.

Meanwhile the concrete plant’s opponents are continuing to fight against its construction.

“We’re still engaging with the federal government to determine their jurisdiction of fish habitats,” Grabe said. “We believe the federal government should have jurisdiction under the Fisheries Act.”

Currently, Grabe says his group is uncertain of the future timeline following the LPAT decision.

“It’s all fairly uncertain,” he said. “We’ll have to review the documents. The ministry has not given us a deadline. We told them we need some time after we receive the Cavanagh documents.”