School board steers clear of plant debate

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The Upper Canada District School Board may one day have a concrete and asphalt plant as a neighbour, but it is staying out of the debate over the west-end project.

The public board has issued a statement saying “it won’t be taking a position for or against the proposed asphalt plant in Brockville, near to its headquarters in the city, because it is a municipal issue.

"The board expects that all the mandated safety studies will be completed and that all regulations will be followed to ensure that the proposed facility will not harm our students and staff,” board chairman Greg Pietersma advises in the statement.

The board adds it is “always prepared to work with local governments to provide them with any support required during the review process.”

The statement came as a disappointment to Wayne Blackwell, chairman of the Coalition for Responsible Urban Zoning (CRUZ), a citizens' group formed in opposition to the project. His group had approached the board for support in its fight.

Blackwell said there are more than 2,700 students in elementary and secondary schools within a 1.5-kilometre radius of the proposed industrial site.

Two of those schools, St. Mary Catholic High School and St. Francis Xavier Catholic School, belong to the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario, while the other three, Thousand Islands Secondary School, Prince of Wales Public School and Westminster Public School, are part of the Upper Canada board.

The public board, however, has its head office on Central Avenue West, right beside the proposed plants.

Pietersma confirmed Tuesday the board statement is in response to having been approached by the plants' opponents.

“There have been some questions and certainly we've received some correspondence,” said the chairman.

Pietersma said the board's relations with the city remain professional and the board has faith in the municipal process.

“We don't have the expertise to challenge the studies that are being done,” he said.

“As with any project, we expect that the rules will be followed.”

The board generally stays out of municipal debates, said Pietersma, adding it would be equally odd “for municipalities to talk about pedagogical issues.”

The company has said the new complex will bring as many as 40 jobs to Brockville. The firm plans to begin with one operation and grow over seven to 10 years. CRUZ is hosting a public meeting at the Brockville Arts Centre tonight on the project, put forward by Ottawa-based R.W. Tomlinson Ltd.

A CRUZ handout circulated across the city warns the project will generate a foul smell throughout Brockville, as well as health consequences from environmental pollution, and noise and light pollution. CRUZ also warns the development will decrease property values around the site and cause other negative economic consequences.



The Coalition for Responsible Urban Zoning, formed in opposition to the west-end concrete and asphalt plants proposed by Ottawa-based R.W. Tomlinson Ltd., is planning a public meeting on the subject at the Brockville Arts Centre today at 7 p.m.

Tomlinson has applied to rezone lands on Central Avenue West, just west of the former Sanmina-SCI plant, to allow for a concrete plant, cement storage terminal, waste transfer station, recycling facility and an asphalt plant.

A spokesman for Tomlinson said last week the company's proposed concrete plant is actually a "ready-mix storage facility," which he described as "a very quiet, low-key low-dust ... contained type of facility."



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