The contentious proposed Environmental Resource Recovery Centre (ERRC) cleared another hurdle in the process toward getting approvals in place this week.
On Jan. 2, the county received notification from the provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) that the County Official Plan Amendment for the proposed ERRC, to be located at 2976 Horseshoe Valley Rd. W., in Springwater Township, has been approved.
While the province did ask for one modification to the county plan, county officials find the request to be in-line with their overall plan.
“It fits in very well for us going forward,” said Rob McCullough, director of solid waste management for the County of Simcoe. “Essentially, one of the requirements for us was to compensate for the areas that are taken out of the Simcoe Forest at a two-to-one ratio. What this (modification) allows us to do is look at new plantings in areas that have never been planted, as well as remove Invasive Species from other areas to allow replanting.
“(The province’s request) provides some clarification on what types of plants are allowed to be planted,” he added. “Previously, we hadn’t yet had (specific) plots of land in mind (for planting) where work hadn’t been done. Now, we have specifically identified them and worked that out with the responding agencies.”
Springwater Township Mayor Don Allen was in receipt of the approval when reached for comment on Wednesday.
“We did receive it and we are reviewing it with staff,” Allen said. “We will be discussing next steps at our council meeting on Jan. 9.”
Allen declined to comment further on the issue at this time.
There are two major components of the proposed ERRC.
The first component is a material management facility (MMF) where waste from multiple collection vehicles is consolidated and transferred allowing for cost-effective shipment to other locations.
The second component is an organics processing facility (OPF) where green-bin materials are brought, broken down and converted into resources for use within the county such as compost, fertilizer or fuel.
Assuming the approvals are in place, work is slated to begin on the site in 2019, commissioning the MMF in 2021 and the OPF in 2024.
Opponents to the ERRC have listed dangers to the environment, fire hazards, odour, traffic and costs as issues worth considering before going forward with the project.
In the two years since the site location was announced, the county consulted with the public, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Natural Resources, forestry and the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, note county officials.
There is a 20-day appeal period noted in the ministry’s notice of decision.
If there is no appeal, the next step will be for county staff to prepare an update for county council with more details on the project while working with Springwater Township on required local land use changes and additional studies required to support development.
More public information sessions on the project will also be included.
To read the full notice of decision, click here.
To read our story about the proposed ERRC and the science behind the technology, click here.