SCUGOG: Councillors unveiled their list of demands for the owners of the Greenbank Airways site, during a special public meeting earlier this week.
Council hopes that residents of Greenbank will be able to breathe a little easier in the coming months, with radical changes allowing for greater liability insurance, increased monitoring, and Township oversight covering nearly all aspects of the operation.
During a specially scheduled public meeting, held on the evening of Monday, March 30, inside the Scugog Community Centre, Township staff reported that the Greenbank Airways site currently contains 1.1 Million cubic metres of fill, less than half of its approved capacity for 2.5 Million cubic metres. One man, who asked to remain anonymous, was heard asking “Where else will they go but up? It’s almost as tall as my house - and it’s an eye sore.”
Council ultimately decided to increase their tipping fees from $1 per cubic metre, to $2 per cubic metre - allowing for twice the fill revenue to come into Township coffers.
When asked where the money will go in the future, and how much money has been made from the agreement thus far, Mayor Rowett responded “We haven’t decided what the funds will be spent on, but we’ve cautiously set it aside in a contingency fund - to be spent on future community improvement capital projects.” The Mayor also added that the Township did not have the current dollar-figure on-hand.
Ward 3 Councillor Don Kett asked that a line be inserted into the draft agreement, stating that no permit negotiations be undertaken until the proponents have caught up on their current bills to the Township - the actual figure of which is confidential.
Ward 1 Councillor Betty Somerville informed those present that the new agreement would see a secure and controlled gate for the facility’s entrance, which would allow for strict operating times from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Those in attendance applauded Council, but muttered concern over how the schedule would be enforced. Township staff explained that the new agreement would include measures allowing for daily traffic counts and monitoring.
Under the new agreement, the proponents of the site will be responsible for retaining the services of an environmentally qualified testing professional (QP), deemed fit by the Township’s Public Works department.
In a move for public transparency, documentation of all fill source sites and test results must be posted on the official Greenbank Airways website at www.greenbankairways.net.
Legislation which stated that Township staff and by-law officers must give notice before entering the site will also be deleted, which Mayor Rowett explained will allow for random audits and samples to be taken - as well as the monitoring of the site against potential breaches.
Scugog’s Director of Public Works, Glen Smith, will be given power of oversight on future fill importation and site plans - including the power to veto any suspect fill sources. Also, any future grading or construction work must not be completed until Mr. Smith has reviewed the owner’s grading plans and load distribution designs - in an effort to prevent soil spills, like at the bordering Hill Farm property.
The owners of the Greenbank Airways site currently hold $2.5 Million of insurance coverage, but Council voted to increase the amount to $10 Million, and to have the owners set aside a $1 Million security deposit, to ensure that any possible environmental damages can be cleaned up in short-order.
Fees incurred for soil testing and administration changes, currently footed by the Township’s revenue from fill importation, will be placed on the backs of the site operators - under the new agreement.
After the agreement was tweaked, Council attempted to answer submitted questions from the public - the first of which asked “What will happen to operations on the site if the contract hasn’t been signed on April 1, and the current agreement lapses?”
Mayor Rowett explained that, if no contract or permit is in place, the proponent could not legally import any fill soil into the site - but that operations of moving fill within the property could continue.
Residents also asked who would be responsible for securing the mound of dirt, and if it is expected to look like anything but a pile of dirt. Scugog’s CAO, Ian Roger, fielded the question - explaining that “The proponents indicated that they would be placing topsoil and seed on the north and east faces of the property as soon as they can get equipment in,” but that the south and west faces of the hill will still accept fill - and will be left in their current condition.
Residents also asked Council how the newly-ratified Bill C-43, which allows the Federal government to review aerodrome plan changes, would affect the Greenbank Airways site.
Mayor Rowett explained that the site operates as an airport, and is outside of Municipal jurisdiction - but that MP Erin O’Toole would be on-hand at an April 8 meeting to answer questions about the bill.
“The laws regarding these sites are constantly evolving, and we find ourselves in a desert of guidance from the other levels of government,” said Mayor Rowett. “We need the help of our constituents to raise this matter up, and we’re calling on the Province and Feds to step-up.”
Following the unanimous passing of the new agreement, which will now be pitched to the operators of the site, Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew told The Standard that “We’ve made a tough new agreement, and we hope to hear back soon - the ball is in their court, and we’re not sure of how long it will take to have signatures on paper.”
As mentioned above, MP O’Toole will be attending the next Greenbank public meeting, which will attempt to explain Bill C-43, and take input from the public to the Federal level. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 8, at 6:30 p.m. - inside the Greenbank Hall - located near the intersection of Hwy 12 and Cragg Rd.