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Landowner next to proposed controversial landfill sees no point in latest call for comments

Signs against a proposed landfill in Dresden, Ont., are shown on the property of John Lamers. (Submitted by Tim Lamers - image credit)
Signs against a proposed landfill in Dresden, Ont., are shown on the property of John Lamers. (Submitted by Tim Lamers - image credit)

A man who owns land adjacent to a proposed Dresden, Ont., landfill sees no point in the latest call for public comments.

John Lamers said York1 Environmental Waste Solutions Ltd., based just outside Toronto, has offered to buy his property because of its close proximity.

"I showed … a picture of it, and they asked me if I would be willing to negotiate, sit down and negotiate a sale on the property. And I respectfully declined and said 'no.'"

The backyard of John Lamers in Dresden, Ont., overlooks the proposed landfill.
The backyard of John Lamers in Dresden, Ont., overlooks the proposed landfill.

The backyard of John Lamers in Dresden, Ont., overlooks the proposed landfill. (Submitted by Tim Lamers)

Plans to reopen and expand the site in rural Chatham-Kent have faced strong opposition for two months. This would include a recycling operation and overall site covering 25 hectares.

Neighbours and local governments have expressed concerns about the plan, which could see up to 6,000 tonnes of solid waste coming to the facility every day. A community group was created called Dresden C.A.R.E.D. (Citizens Against Reckless Environmental Disposal) in opposition to the potential development.

LISTEN | Man who owns property next to proposed landfill project voices concerns:

Before Dresden became a part of Chatham-Kent during a 1998 amalgamation, incinerator ash was thrown down on the site — meaning it doesn't require municipal rezoning and is in the hands of the province.

Now, the Ministry of the Environment is seeking public comment on the plan until May 10, 2024.

The ministry acknowledges it has already "heard concerns raised ... about potential impacts to species at risk, groundwater, surface water, increased truck traffic, odour and other potential impacts."

Lamers' son and grandchildren live on the property he owns next to the proposal.

"I'm concerned about the quality of the water wells," he said.

A view of the York 1property on Irish School Road is shown in an image provided by the group Dresden C.A.R.E.D.
A view of the York 1property on Irish School Road is shown in an image provided by the group Dresden C.A.R.E.D.

A view of the York 1 property on Irish School Road in the rural southwestern Ontario community of Dresden. (Dresden C.A.R.E.D.)

"There's 15 or 20 houses there that are all on private water wells. So the water contamination is going to be one thing … that's going to be leaking into the ground."

According to Lamers, he's also concerned with potentially high methane gas levels.

"The more testing and drilling they do back there, it's going to disturb the methane gas levels, which is going to contaminate more wells. And the methane gas would also creep into the basement of the homes if they disturb it."

In March, Ontario's environment minister said a full assessment would be required "to address local community concerns and mitigate potential impacts before it could open."

In a statement, Andrea Khanjin said the site was over 40 years old, "prior to Ontario's requirement that landfills undergo an environmental assessment."

A York1 spokesperson previously said in an email to CBC News the company was in the early stages of amending existing permits for the "regenerative recycling facility" inside a provincial process.

icoleta Micle said species-at-risk and traffic control studies were being completed, among "numerous" others.

What's the municipal response?

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent says it is working on a second submission in response to the landfill proposal, "which will be submitted prior to the Apr. 11, 2024 deadline," according to a statement.

It stated that this comment will be made public.

The municipality said it also plans to comment on the latest ministry request before the May 10 deadline.

"To reiterate, I would once again like to make it clear that I stand with the people of Dresden, with the people of Chatham-Kent, and with our neighbours in the County of Lambton," said Darrin Canniff, Chatham-Kent's mayor.

"I encourage everyone to submit comments to the latest … posting prior to the May 10, 2024 deadline."

Lamers said he's concerned the municipality isn't putting its foot down enough.

"Commit to things in writing to say they're willing to use the veto power … to prevent York1 from constructing a new regenerative landfill cell. I think that's something that they should look into with their legal counsel."