Council concrete motion ‘meaningless’

OTTAWA – Carp residents opposed to a cement batching plant say their councillor “threw us under the bus a second time,” after Ottawa council approved a process to send environmental concerns to the province today (March 27).

More than 30 Carp-area residents attended today’s city council meeting using a variety of methods to voice their disapproval of a Carp Road zoning amendment that will pave the way for a heavy industrial operation, a cement batching plant, to be built on the site.

Cement plant opponents lobbied out front of Andrew S. Hayden Hall. They wore breathing masks in the council chambers, listening intently to the proceeding, and after the motion passed, were back out in the foyer handing out copies of children’s books about the issue.

Coun. Eli El-Chantiry listens to discussion on a proposed concrete batching plant at council today. Photo by Jake Davies
Coun. Eli El-Chantiry listens to discussion on a proposed concrete batching plant at council today. Photo by Jake Davies

As Coun. Eli El-Chantiry arrived for the 10 a.m. council meeting, Carp resident Elia Bisson implored the councillor.

“C’mon, Eli. Please vote no. C’mon Eli, we voted for you,” she said.

On March 8, the Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee (ARAC) unanimously approved the application for a zoning amendment to allow land at 2596 Carp Rd. be changed from light industrial to heavy industrial and permit the development of a concrete batching plant.

For West Carleton Online’s complete coverage on this story, click here.

Today, council voted on accepting ARAC’s decision. The agenda item appeared early in the meeting and before council approved the motion, El-Chantiry suggested a direction to staff in which all environmental concerns received by the city (some 200 and growing) be submitted via letter to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks as part of their Environmental Compliance Approval consultation process.

“We heard a lot from the community,” El-Chantiry told council. “Most of it involved environmental concerns. I can share with some of those concerns.”

Coun. Carol Anne Meehan, who is also a member of ARAC, also had some concerns about the cement plant.

“There has been a very large contingent of Carp area residents who live there and have chosen to retire there,” she said. “There is reason to be alarmed.”

Coun. Catherine McKenny was concerned about setting a precedent for heavy industrial operations to move in following this amendment.

“We’ve seen it before,” she said.

“Each further zoning application would be subject to the same process,” city staffer Adam Brown replied. “Each one is based on its own merit.”

Coun. Diane Deans also had concerns.

“I have vast experience in inappropriate land uses butting up against each other,” she said. “This does not represent good land use.”

Deans wondered why the amendment was approved when she felt it wouldn’t be if the site was in an urban part of the city.

“I’ve been down this road so many times,” Deans said. “I feel terrible for the people of Carp.”

Council voted 16-6 (Coun. Scott Moffatt was absent) in favour of tabling the issue with the direction to staff.

The residents in attendance felt the motion provided nothing of value to them.

“It’s no progress, it’s no progress,” Carp resident Dan Mayo told West Carleton Online immediately following the motion’s passing and a short recess. “That’s already true the province has control over certain aspects of the environmental effects of a concrete point so asking them to review it is meaningless window dressing. It’s another sham move by Eli ‘Not My Counsellor.’”

Mayo was one of the several delegations that spoke in opposition of the amendment at the March 8 ARAC meeting.

“They threw us under the bus a second time,” Mayo said. “It’s going to be a long fight. It’s going to be a two or three-year fight.”

Mayo says the residents have already hired a lawyer and have a fund to see this process to the end.

“The tribunal, the environmental process, we’ll be involved in that,” Mayo said. “Our lawyer Michael Hebert is going after the provincial approvals and we’ll probably have to fight this land use approval on our own. And then there’s court at the end of that process. Cavanagh thinks they’re going to start construction this summer? 2025 would be a more realistic target. We’re dug in, we have raised a lot of money for our defence. As you can tell, we’re very active on the community front. We’re not going away.”

Dan Mayor wrote and published this children's book about Huntley Creek and Freddie's efforts to stop a concrete plant.
Dan Mayo wrote and published this children’s book about Huntley Creek and Freddie’s efforts to stop a concrete plant. Photo by jake Davies

Mayo has been working on a variety of different material to support their clause – including a children’s book. Mayo wrote the book Freddie Redfin, the Story of Huntley Creek illustrated by Jana Rothwell. He has published 1,500 copies of the book and area residents were handing out copies after the council meeting.

“After the ARAC sham that Eli ‘Not My Counsellor’ (chaired), they weren’t understanding any of the technical arguments the scientific arguments the legal points,” Mayo said. “So, I figured I would write a children’s book and maybe, at their level, they would get it.”

City staff are still waiting for a traffic impact study to be filed and the file is now being reviewed by the province as well.