The County of Brant is seeking an order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to close a St. George food processing plant after the minister of the environment shot down an attempt by councillors to have the ministry declare odour from TimCo Foods Ltd. “a spill” under the Environmental Protection Act.
“Emissions from a building, such as TimCo, into the atmosphere during normal operations via a ventilation system are not considered to be a spill,” Environment Minister Jim Bradley wrote in a letter addressed to Mayor Ron Eddy. “A spill is essentially any accidental, abnormal or inadvertent release of a pollutant discharged into the natural environment.”
County of Brant councillors recently gave approval to apply for a court order to close TimCo, asking the court to declare the plant’s odour a “public nuisance” under the Municipal Act.
“It’s now in the hands of our lawyers,” St. George-area Coun. John Wheat said. “Myself and (County of Brant general manager of corporate services) Michael Bradley and our legal team met with St. George residents last week and we have started to put a legal action together.”
The municipality is using the legal services of Siskinds, based in London.
Council made the decision despite being advised by county staff that the action would not quickly resolve the plant’s odour issue and likely cost the municipality about $60,000.
Wheat said the county’s legal representatives estimate that it could take up to one year for the lawsuit to be heard in court.
The environment minister said he is “aware of the effects these odours are having within the community” and said MOE staff regularly visit the business.
“The company has been co-operating with the (MOE) to resolve the inadequacy of its odour controls,” Bradley said in the letter.
The MOE has issued an order to TimCo Foods to provide source testing results by early September in relation to a biofilter the company has proposed to install to help control odour.
TimCo opened an edible fat processing plant on Prospect Street in St. George during the summer of 2011. Area residents have complained about the plant’s odour to council and the MOE since it began production.
Brant MPP Dave Levac also recently sent a letter to Bradley urging that more swift action be taken on the odour issue.
County of Brant Mayor Ron Eddy said he was not shocked by the environment minister’s reply.
“I’m not surprised by the minister saying it can’t be declared a spill,” Eddy said. “It was a long shot. But council approved the motion and we sent (a letter) to the ministry. It was another attempt to get this matter settled.”