OPINION: Who is telling the truth?

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Angela Richards, Michele Lalonge-Davey and Sandra Hart were part of the crowd protesting the proposed expansion of a landfill north of Dresden on March 1. The project, spearheaded by York1, a Mississauga-based company, is mired in controversy with the community only learning of the scope of the proposal when it was posted on the Environmental Registry of Ontario at the end of January.

The issue of the proposed York1 recycling and landfill proposal near Dresden is quickly becoming one of credibility.

At a March 1 public meeting, York1 officials allege that Mayor Darrin Canniff knew about their plan to revive the Dresden dump in December of 2022.

Municipal officials have said while there was limited contact with the company after it had purchased the site in 2022, Chatham-Kent had no knowledge of the firm’s plans until they were posted on the province’s website.

Projects of this magnitude (a 24/7 operation landfilling 365,000 tonnes of material per year) don’t happen overnight, nor are they scribbled on the back of a napkin.

If York1 was negotiating with the municipality, a Freedom of Information request filed by The Voice, and others will find that correspondence. There will be consequences for misleading the public, for York1 or Chatham-Kent.

Council has flatly rejected York1’s proposal and in an unusually strongly worded letter to the province, Canniff accused the firm of taking advantage of outdated ministry approvals issued decades ago.

Dresden residents, angered by the site’s proximity to the community (less than two kilometers from the downtown), potential environmental impact, increased traffic, and other issues appear united in their opposition.

They won’t be bought off by proposals of questionable economic benefits.

Adding to York1’s image issues was how it handled its March 1 public meeting.

Instead of allowing residents to sit and ask questions, the firm opted for “information stations” throughout the facility.

This type of “interaction” with the public has been used by wind turbine firms, by the municipality, in health-care discussions, and others as a way of “engaging” the public without directly answering questions.

In each instance we’ve observed, members of the public come away frustrated and feeling as if the presenters had something to hide.

We expect that there is much more the public needs to know about this project, and the sooner the better.

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