by SUSAN MANN
An agreement was reached in an Owen Sound court last Thursday on an interim injunction to remove a blockade of the only roadway entrance to Southgate Township’s Eco-Industrial Park in Grey County.
The agreement between the community group involved in the blockade, Southgate Public Interest Research Group (SPIRG), Southgate Township and the two companies that were prevented from accessing their businesses stipulates the blockade had to be taken down immediately.
The businesses, Lystek International Inc. and Orgapower Compost Corp., and the township asked for an injunction to remove the blockade, which has been in place since April 4. One of the businesses, Lystek, is building a facility in the Eco Park, south of the village of Dundalk, to turn dewatered biosolids, septage and other liquids into a fertilizer product that can be spread on farmers’ fields. SPIRG has concerns about the company’s plans.
James Cooke, SPIRG vice president, says the companies and municipality are portraying the interim injunction as a “win” for their side. But “our case was not heard (last Thursday) and we didn’t lose anything.” Instead the injunction matter will continue after SPIRG’s appeal of Southgate Township’s building permit to Lystek. That will be heard in an Owen Sound courthouse Thursday, July 19.
The injunction states that SPIRG, its identified leadership, other people named in the injunction and anyone aware of the blockade are to immediately remove all obstructions to the industrial park. The township says in a press release the court and law enforcement officials are responsible for ensuring the injunction’s terms are met.
Cooke says residents are concerned about the lack of public consultation with citizens on the plans to establish the Lystek facility, the validity of the zoning bylaw, the possibility of truck traffic through Dundalk as well as odour, the appropriateness of locating the facility on a floodplain and near provincially sensitive wetlands and the proximity of the facility and its lagoons to dwellings and a school.
Kevin Litwiller, Lystek’s business development director, says SPIRG has suggested that the Six Nations initiated the blockade, but that’s “a load of hooey.”
Lystek has been involved in communications and ongoing consultations with Six Nations’ leadership who didn’t direct anyone from their community to be involved in it, he says, adding that it’s the community group that has set up and manned the blockade.
Six Nations spokespeople couldn’t be reached for comment.
Cooke disputes Litwiller’s claim that Six Nations wasn’t involved. When SPIRG informed Six Nations’ elected band council of Lystek’s project, “they became upset” and opposed it so much “they wanted to blockade the developer from going in there and continuing development. We fully supported them shoulder to shoulder.”
The blockade “was the only way to get them (Lystek) to stop,” Cooke says. “We tried being nice. We tried many delegations to the council.”
Southgate Township Mayor Brian Milne says the interim injunction ordering the blockade’s removal is in place until Thursday, when SPIRG’s appeal of the township’s building permit to Lystek is being heard.
Milne says the interim injunction agreement means protesters “cannot restrict access to the site.”
He’s pleased with the interim injunction. “It shows the judge was intolerant of people blocking a road illegally. His order, which SPIRG agreed to, was that the blockade must come down. I’m hopeful that they will abide by that ruling.”
Both Lystek and Orgapower company officials say they are thrilled to get back to work. Construction on the Lystek facility will resume as soon as possible, says Litwiller.
Lystek is three months behind schedule in constructing its facility. The company is also waiting for final Ministry of Environment approval certificates, which it expects to have by the end of this week, Litwiller says, noting they should be up and running by November.
Steve Sittler, spokesman for Orgapower, a company that turns municipal leaf and yard waste into compost, soil conditioners and other byproducts of the composting process, says they weren’t able to do any work since the start of the blockade. They were only permitted access to their building to check temperatures.
“We couldn’t do any turning of the compost or anything for the last 13 weeks,” he says, noting the blockade meant they lost the ability to attract new business.
They had 6,000 tonnes of compost ready to ship to market at the beginning of April and it’s still there, he says.
The company has 10 employees and has been in the industrial park for three years. It makes 15,000 to 20,000 tonnes of compost a year that’s sold in Kitchener and Hamilton as well as the Georgian Bay and Simcoe County areas. Sittler says there aren’t any complaints from area residents about their company. “We were kind of caught up in this thing.”
But Cooke says Six Nations has an objection to the company.
Sittler says he went by the site later in the day last Thursday and the blockade of trucks, cars and people was removed.
Sittler says they don’t have any objections to Lystek being in the same industrial park as they are. “I think they’ll be great neighbours.” BF