I would like to comment on the upcoming public information video session being hosted by the Tomlinson Group Oct. 14, at 6:30 pm. In preparation for this meeting two announcements were posted regarding a very matter of fact process the applicant is using to gain approval to convert both their asphalt and concrete temporary operations into permanent operations at their Napanee location. Easy enough right, no need to include any emotional connectivity to the land or empathy towards residents, just a baseline statement of facts, a quick post about their vision, and here is the process.
In the past, municipalities in the throes of growing their brand and finding their economic identity, might accept this application at face value because of perceived tax revenues or an increase in jobs more so than a need to consider environmental sensitivities or growing residential settlement.
Much has changed from back in the day when industrial development was critical to the local economic engine, don’t get me wrong Napanee is an example of a very fortunate community to have an excellent core of current industry partners. However, we also have to recognize this community is now made up of many creative, independent entrepreneurs, tourist operators, boutique retailers and agricultural producers that are equally important in attracting people and business to this town. If COVID has taught us anything, it is that quality of life and wellness is very important and that our surroundings are very much a part of this.
So for those who feel the quarry belongs to the landowner therefore they get to decide how they grow their business I say yes for the most part, except when their business includes high risks to the environment and poses potential harms to neighbours. The Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Natural resources certainly have a process of reporting and compliance which developers will adhere to unfortunately for the municipality much of the process relies on industry self -regulation, and a minimum of standards, which in this case only partially applies because the proposed asphalt quarry site pre -dates some of the regulations that exist in 2021. Another important aspect of Ministry compliance is public notice, sounds great except much of the notice is informational only, and it appears only when the developer is required, there is no standard for dispute resolution and it does not always have to include local municipal government unless there is an application before them.
We already have many former industrial sites left over from a bygone era of minimal reporting that one needs only to look at, like the now vacant Emmerson lot on Centre Street, the old Chrysler dealership downtown or the former gas station across the street, the many abandoned quarries in the area or better yet the Richmond landfill to see the results of less regulation, less oversight. Still not sure, take a drive to Picton on County Rd. 49, ask yourself if you want Palace Road or County Rd. 2 to look and feel like that. But as we read in the announcement, these are Truck Routes, no big deal right!
So please folks if you have any questions to ask Tomlinson about the Zoning Application please register and ask them about their Traffic Study and how and when they collected their data, or ask about the Acoustics Study (noise) and the 16 receptors (residents) they included. That’s right, 16. Ask about the predictive data and the acoustic modelling methodology used to determine whether the 16 local residents will be impacted by the potential noise generated from the operation. And so on.