Proposed Napanee asphalt plant under municipal review

This article originally ran April 14, 2021 in The Kingston Local.

Napanee could soon be home to a new permanent asphalt plant and that has some residents concerned.

The Local has obtained a copy of a letter to residents in the area surrounding what used to be the Don Hart Quarry, located north of Cty Road 2 at the east end of town.

The letter, dated April 12, details how R.W. Tomlinson Limited (Tomlinson) acquired the Don Hart Quarry, and the additional lands associated with the Quarry in 2018.  It goes on to inform residents of “Tomlinson’s plan to amend the Zoning By-law 02-22 to rezone a portion of the subject property located at Part Lot 21, Conc. 7 Part Lot 21, Conc. 7, geographic Twp. of North Fredericksburgh, now in Town of Greater Napanee (8205 County Road 2), to permit a permanent asphalt plant.”

Casey and Hannah Wells recently purchased a farm on nearby Switzerville Road. Hannah addressed her misgivings about the plant, saying that it has raised a number of concerns for them and their neighbours. Mostly because of the unknowns.

“I don’t know much about it (asphalt production). Will it affect our water supply? I’m sure factories use a lot of water are they taking from the river? Will our well water be contaminated? Will our houses lose value being so close to a factory? Will downtown Napanee smell? How will it impact the environment?” she asked.

Wells also pointed out that Coco Paving, a company that owns and operates an asphalt plant located in Belleville was recently convicted under the Environmental Protection Act.

In an interview, Rob Pierce, Senior Vice President of Planning and Development at Tomlinson, addressed some of these concerns, “The bottom line is, in terms of anything that’s going on with the plant itself — anything in terms of odour or dust etc — there’s emission modelling which we have to do. The simple answer is that any emissions will have to mitigated on-site as per Ministry of the Environment requirements.”

Pierce discussed the company’s history and good reputation, “Essentially we’re a family-owned business in Ottawa. We’ve been around for 67 years now. We own a number of quarries, asphalt plants, sandpits and construction, mostly focused in Ottawa. We also have a reasonable presence in Kingston to do environmental services down there as well as construction. 

We acquired the Don Hart quarry in 2018, and we’ve been operating out of there as a quarry since that time.”

Pierce pointed out that, “The quarry is actually permitted already to have a portable asphalt plant. If you remember the paving that went on in Napanee around 2018, that was Tomlinson doing the work and we actually had our portable asphalt plant in the quarry at that time.”

He added, “The land area itself we have is quite large and I think even local residents were not aware that we had a portable plant for example in there. Modern asphalt plants are fairly non-intrusive.”

Will there be any new jobs brought to Napanee by this plant?  Pierce wasn’t specific about if the employees were new hires, “The plant itself normally directly employs 2-3 individuals, plus any other spin off jobs that could be created or local services utilized by the plant and quarry.”

Asked if he would personally be concerned, if an asphalt plant moved in down the road, Pierce said, “Not at all.”

The application for re-zoning has been submitted by MHBC Planning, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture on behalf Tomlinson. The Town of GReater Napanee’s Director of Development Services, Michael D. Nobes, explained that “The following studies/reports have been submitted in support of the application and are under municipal review: Environmental Impact Assessment, Transportation Impact Assessment, Acoustic Assessment Report, Stormwater Management Report, Planning Justification Report.” 

According to Nobes, “The re-zoning application will require public consultation through at least one statutory public meeting held by Council in compliance with the Planning Act wherein the proposal will be formally presented to Municipal Council and the opportunity.”  But, “At this time, R.W. Tomlinson Limited has not requested to advance the application to a public meeting.”

Residents can make comments directly to Council at the public meeting, or submit their comments beforehand to municipal staff who will present their concerns.  After the meeting, there will still be an opportunity for public comments to be made, and presented at a subsequent Council meeting.

Nobes, himself an Engineer, explained, “The proposed plant would be required to operate in compliance with Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) standards. In order to operate the asphalt plant, Tomlinson would need to obtain an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) from the MECP for air and noise emissions as well as water discharge. The MECP reviews the associated technical studies (Stormwater Management Report, Acoustic Assessment Report and an Emissions Summary Dispersion Modeling Report (ESDM)) and must be satisfied with the studies prior to issuance of an ECA.”  

“In general, the ESDM would identify all air pollution sources and contaminants emitted from the plant, and assess the significance of the sources and contaminants, as well as the concentrations relative to MECP limits and criteria. A dispersion model would also be developed which is an established method to predict how a specific emission concentration moves through the atmosphere. Finally, details of the proposed emissions control equipment must be provided for MECP review.”

“The Ministry also requires plant operators to complete an acoustic audit after operations begin, development and implementation of the best management practice plans for emissions, and regular inspections of operations to ensure the equipment is operating as designed.  MECP will not issue an ECA unless it can be demonstrated the proposed asphalt plant will not cause adverse effects”

The MECP has recently developed a new technical standard specific to asphalt plant operations and the proposed asphalt plant design and operation would be required to comply with such standard. 

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