No Minister’s Order for County of Simcoe waste facility so delays will continue

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The County of Simcoe’s Environmental Resource Recovery Centre (ERRC) project will not be granted a minister’s zoning order from the province.

That means the fate of the facility will depend on an upcoming LPAT hearing.

The County of Simcoe has been working on the Environmental Resource Recovery Centre (ERRC) since 2012, “to ensure that we have the necessary waste management infrastructure in place, and to support the Province’s long-term waste goals.”

“The ERRC is an important project that provides certainty on organics processing costs and capacity for the next 30 years, protects taxpayers from escalating costs and creates more than 100 direct and indirect local jobs,” Warden George Cornell said in a press release.

In November 2016, the County initiated a County Official Plan Amendment 2 (COPA2). The Province approved COPA2 for the proposed ERRC on November 30, 2018. On January 2, 2019, notification was received from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) regarding their approval of COPA 2, allowing the County to proceed with the project.

This decision was subsequently appealed. The County has been waiting since fall 2019 for a decision on a joint motion brought by both the County and the Ministry regarding setting the appropriate issues for a hearing. No hearing date can be set until this decision is received.

Given the time and resources spent on the project to date, risk of losing available funding, planning and engineering costs already incurred and the importance of proceeding with development, in April 2020, County Council voted to pursue a Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO), a valid option available for all projects throughout Ontario requiring Planning Act approvals.

The County was recently informed of the Minister’s decision to decline the MZO process and follow the LPAT process. We await an official written decision from the MMAH.

“Given this decision from the province, the County will proceed with the LPAT process,” Cornell said. “We are confident that given the Provincial approvals to date and the increasing importance placed on organics and diversion of waste from landfills, that we will have a positive outcome for this important project.”

Following the LPAT process, Cornell said further environmental and land use planning approvals are required.

“The ERRC is an important, environmentally conscious, fiscally responsible and sustainable solution to meet our growing waste needs, and the County is committed to completing these steps,” he said.

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