Minister: closing TimCo would be counter-productive.
On Jul. 12, John Bisaillon of 264 Highway 5 asked the county to apply for an order from Ontario Superior Court under Section 447.1 of the Municipal Act to close Timco for a maximum of two years until its odour problem has been cleaned up.
Council voted unanimously in favour of the request, contradicting the recommendation of a staff report. Councillors Chambers, Gatward and Cardy were absent from the meeting that night.
Michael Bradley, General Manager of Corporate Services, told council at its Aug. 1 meeting that a court order would likely not get Timco to move any faster, plus it would be a complicated and expensive process that could take a year or more. The county should likely simply wait for the Ministry of the Environment to deal with the issue, Bradley suggested.
Bradley also noted in his report that legal costs to pursue the public nuisance application would cost the county at least $60,000. He cited cases with the towns of Collingwood and Newmarket which both unsuccessfully applied under the same section of the Act to close unacceptably smelly local industries.
Mayor Ron Eddy was scathing in his criticism of TimCo and the Ministry of the Environment.
"The applicant was [at the initial public meeting] and makes statements that the odour would be like an ice cream store or some damn thing. The MOE was there. We were told that if there's anything wrong it will be corrected. They lie. They don't do their job there. There should be some dismissals. There's no will to improve it by OMAFRA or the MOE or by the operator."
"We cannot take three years [to solve the problem]," said St. George councillor John Wheat. "We're nigh on a year now and we're nowhere. We haven't gained an inch. We have to go on the offensive. They have an open house every month with promises, promises, promises [that] get put off with delays and excuses. We need to be shooting bullets at them from all sides. We need to be attacking them from all sides. They're not living up to what they said."
"We have to go forward and we owe it to the area," said Mayor Eddy. "It has ruined the area, an idyllic village. It's absolutely disgusting ... If you hear the stories of how bad it is you wouldn't put up with it."
But at least one councillor sounded a note of caution. "These things take time," said Coun. Cliff Atfield. " I can't tell you a hundred things that the government doesn't deal with ... If the Supreme Court doesn't deal with it, then where do we go?"
TimCo opened its edible fat processing plant in the South Dumfries Industrial Park in 2011. The Ministry of the Environment ordered TimCo to install a filtration system to resolve an ongoing odour problem which a group of surrounding residents said prevented them from enjoying their properties.
Earlier this year, the company was ordered to remove a septic system which was improperly used to accept waste material from its plant. The ministry will announce the fine for the infraction some time soon.
In June the county appealed to MPP Dave Levac to get the company to move faster to solve the problem. The county also asked Jim Bradley, Minister of the Environment, to declare the odour problem a "dangerous spill" under the Environmental Protection Act, and intervene.
On Aug. 3, the county received a reply from Bradley who said that the odour could not be declared a spill by definition, although he could understand that the odours would upset the neighbours if they could not enjoy their homes and properties during the summer months.
The Guelph District Office of the MOE was paying regular visits to TimCo at all times of the day and evening on both weekdays and weekends, Bradley noted, and the company was already trying to comply with the ministry's order to install a biofilter system.
TimCo hired a qualified consultant to complete testing of emission sources after a ministry order on Jun. 29 and was asked to report back by Sept. 6.
Bradley also noted that if the business were closed it would be unable to test the filtration system that was required to eliminate the odour problem in the first place: "The generation of emissions is needed to conduct the necessary work and collect sufficient data about the odours."
TimCo would not get approval for its application to amend its Certificate of Approval until it had demonstrated that the biofilter worked, Bradley said, or if it contravened the present conditions of its Certificate of Approval.
In the meantime, ministry officials were trying to help the company manage the odours as best as possible, making sure windows and doors were not left open, he noted.
In an interview, TimCo owner Raj Selvaratnam said officials from the MOE visit the plant daily, and investigate every neighbourhood complaint with a visit and a test for odour levels. He said so far, odour levels have been within ministry guidelines.
He said TimCo is working on its biofilter system as quickly as it can.