Although I’ve been an active participant in community affairs for many years, I try to steer clear of politics on this site. There are times though when something happens that is so significant in the lives of our citizens, it bears comment.
Over a year ago, Collingwood Ethanol came to Collingwood filling the site vacated by the former Nacan factory. There was only limited resistance at the time and the community was pleased to welcome an industry that would create 40 to 50 direct jobs and hopefully some spin-off benefits. (In that short time, public attitudes toward ethanol production have shifted greatly however, that is not the point of this post.)
Well, since the day they revved up the machines, it’s been a nightmare for many of Collingwood’s residents. For over a year, people living in the east end of town have complained of unreasonable noise levels and smells described as putrid and unbearable. At first, their concerns seemed to fall on deaf ears as they were told they were mistaken and then later, that the problems were being “worked on.” Month after month went by with no results and slowly, people organized and an east-end ratepayers group was formed. They’ve met with the Mayor and town staff, have made deputations at
council meetings and submitted a petition. They’ve pushed the Ministries of Environment and of Health. And all along, nothing got better. It got worse. Then in the humid evenings of summer, the rest of us finally got it as the smells wafted clear across town. Yes, they are putrid.
Finally, those who can force change have taken notice and have stepped up to the plate. The Ministry of the Environment brought in a TAGA machine to assess the situation and sure enough, noise decibels were exceeded and “odour units” were over 100 times the allowable limit. As a result, they placed an order on CE to fix the problems by August 31st or else face a shut down however, CE has appealed this decision and next steps are not yet clear. The Town waded indirecting the Town solicitor to gather the necessary information to make application to the Superior court to proceed with public nuisance charges under Section 447.1 of the Municipal Act. Even the local Health Unit has expressed concerns. Most of the people I’ve talked to seem to be glad that these bodies have intervened and especially, that Collingwood’s town council has taken a strong stance after having been patient for so long.
We all know though that no dispute is one sided. After the events of this week-end, it would appear the fight has just begun.
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