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Resident grills council over biogas

Woolwich may have no say in the decision, but that’s no reason not to be vocal about the impacts of a biogas plant proposed for Elmira, says a local resident who gave councillors an earful Tuesday night.

Mike Hicknell told township officials they aren’t putting enough pressure on the province to prevent the project from going ahead in Elmira’s north end.

Derek Potma holds a sign protesting the biogas facility proposed for Elmira during a public meeting held on Wednesday night in the community centre room of the Woolwich Memorial Centre, attended by about 30 people. Opponents have been looking to spread the lawn signs around town.

Bio-En Power Inc. plans to create electricity by converting organic waste into methane to power a generator. Materials such as livestock manure, food waste, used cooking oils and other fats will be fed into anaerobic digester, creating the fuel for the process. The $12-million facility would generate 2.8 megawatts of renewable electricity – enough to power 2,200 homes – and 3.4 mW of heat.

Under the province’s new Green Energy Act, municipalities are no longer involved in the approval process for alternative energy projects. Rather, the decision will be made by the Ministry of the Environment.

Acknowledging that reality, Hicknell said there’s nothing stopping the township from taking a strong stand in talks with the province. In addressing council this week, he expressed particular concern about the number of extra trucks travelling to and from the proposed site on Martin’s Lane, adjacent to the pet food mill.

Bio-En predicts the operation will see seven to 15 trucks daily, though opponents have been citing 80 trucks, the top-end limit listed in the application process.

Most of the trucks bringing in food waste will be coming from the south, east and west, Hicknell argued, meaning they’ll pass through the intersection of Arthur and Church streets. Given all the other streets and driveways that intersect those two main roads, the impact on local traffic would be significant.

“I hope you do something about it, otherwise we’re going to have a plant in the north end of Elmira that people are going to die because of,” he said, predicting more collisions.

“Does council intend to do anything about reducing truck traffic in our downtown?” he asked, adding the area is home to many older residents. “Can trucks and senior citizens coexist in downtown Elmira?”

Dan Kennaley, the township’s director of engineering and planning, said traffic flows are important to the township. In its recommendations to the MOE, Woolwich requested a traffic study prior to any decision on the project.

While councillors did not respond directly to those questions, Coun. Sandy Shantz recommended public comments such as Hicknell’s be sent to the MOE as it considers the Bio-En application.

  1. Green energy sources are good for all of us, but there are good reasons why people don’t eat dinner in the bathroom.

    We’ve all suffered with the traffic flow restrictions over the past years as the two roads leading out of town have undergone repair. It should be crystal clear to every Elmira resident that these routes are crucial to the town’s well being.

    80 trucks a day was the high end listed in the Bio-En proposal. I think this is similar to a budget projection; if they are admitting it could be this many trucks I suspect it will be more. Once they are in place we’ll be stuck with them.

    How much faster are the roads going to break down with that much added truck traffic? Worse, how much truck traffic is going to be travelling in the vicinity of Riverside Public School?

    The Province of Ontario should not over ride municipal zoning. More importantly, the municipal council should be fighting to keep this project out of a settlement area.

    Check out the Stop The Stink in Elmira blog.

  2. As someone who understands the value and importance of local community newspapers and reporting, it is disappointing to regularly see the Woolwich Observer spin the facts on this issue. The comment appearing with my photo states the meeting was attended by about 30 people, while in fact we had more than double that number who signed our lists. I understand The Observer is located in a building owned by Martin’s, does this newspaper serve the community or corporate interests?

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