Mayor hope­ful in­dus­trial com­post­ing pro­ject will fal­ter

Whit­bourne res­i­dents weary of de­vel­oper’s plan to process or­ganic waste

The Compass - - NEWS - BY ANDREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Whit­bourne’s mayor re­mains op­ti­mistic there are enough le­git­i­mate con­cerns in play to keep an in­dus­trial com­posit­ing fa­cil­ity from es­tab­lish­ing it­self near the com­mu­nity.

“From what I’m hear­ing, I think that the amount of op­po­si­tion that is against this pro­ject, it won’t go there,” Mayor Hilda Whe­lan told a crowd of over 100 peo­ple at a pub­lic in­for­ma­tion ses­sion last Thurs­day.

It was the sec­ond week in a row the town asked res­i­dents to come out and hear from coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Whe­lan pro­vided an up­date on the town’s ac­tions in re­la­tion to Metro En­vi­ron­men­tal Ser­vices’ pro­posal to op­er­ate a com­mer­cial com­posit­ing fa­cil­ity that would process or­ganic waste to cre­ate or­ganic fer­til­izer.

The com­pany is propos­ing to use mink farm of­fal and car­casses, chick­ens and other dead birds, poul­try feath­ers and slaugh­ter­house of­fal from other forms of live­stock. The pro­posed lo­ca­tion on Route 100 — also known as the Ar­gen­tia Ac­cess Road — is ap­prox­i­mately 2 kilo­me­tres from the town and three kilo­me­tres from the Trans Canada High­way. The land in ques­tion is al­ready des­ig­nated as agri­cul­tural prop­erty.

The mayor be­lieves the busi- ness model needs to be tested else­where be­fore it’s set up any­where close to her town or any other in New­found­land and Labrador. Amongst the con­cerns raised at the meet­ing was the smell such a fa­cil­ity would gen­er­ate, fire haz­ards, and the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.

Mul­ti­ple res­i­dents sug­gested busi­nesses would be neg­a­tively im­pacted. A po­ten­tial ho­tel de­vel­op­ment in the area is re­port­edly on hold await­ing the de­ci­sion from the De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Con­ser­va­tion.

Whe­lan has spo­ken with En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Perry Trimper and was told his de­part­ment is well aware of the town’s con­cerns. The de­part­ment has been in­un­dated with calls and emails about the pro­posal, with the min­is­ter due to ren­der a de­ci­sion by June 25. The dead­line for sub­mis­sions is June 15.

The mayor said Trimper could not meet with the town, as the pro­po­nent is en­ti­tled to a fair as­sess­ment, and such a meet­ing could jeop­ar­dize that.

Pla­cen­tia-St. Mary’s MHA Sherry Gam­bin-Walsh, who also at­tended last Thurs­day’s meet­ing, voiced her own op­po­si­tion to the pro­posal. She ques­tioned it’s suitability for any­where on the Avalon Penin­sula.

“I’m very much op­posed to this site, and I have been lob­by­ing Min­is­ter Trimper ev­ery sin­gle day — he’s re­ally tired of me,” she told the crowd. “I just think two kilo­me­tres from the pro­posed busi­ness or site like this is ab­so­lutely ridicu­lous.”

One per­son at the meet­ing sug­gested the Heart’s Con­tent bar­rens would be a more suit­able area for the pro­posed fa­cil­ity.

Whe­lan said she re­mains con­cerned the pro­po­nent will next look to set up in close prox­im­ity to a com­mu­nity that doesn’t have a strong coun­cil who will do as Whit­bourne has and speak out against the fa­cil­ity.

“If they were to put that be­hind Blake­town or any­where sur­round­ing us, it’s just as bad as if it’s on Ar­gen­tia Road,” she said. “As mayor of the town, I’m ob­li­gated to do what I can to keep it out of our town, which I will fight un­til the bit­ter end. And if at the end of the day they pro­pose the site, then with all gloves off we will fight it again. If it takes le­gal, what­ever it takes, I am de­ter­mined that this stays out of our com­mu­nity and far away.”

ANDREW ROBIN­SON/THE COM­PASS

Sherry Gam­bin-Walsh, far left, ad­dresses the au­di­ence at a meet­ing in Whit­bourne last Thurs­day along­side, from the left, Mayor Hilda Whe­lan and Coun. Peter Peti­pas.

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