August dates set for biochar OMB hearing
By Jenn Watt
with files from Angelica Ingram
April 25, 2017
Hearing dates have been set for an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board regarding Haliburton Forest’s proposed biochar facility on Kennaway Road.
On Friday, April 21, lawyers representing Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve, a group of appellants and Dysart et al met at council chambers in Haliburton overseen by OMB member Laurie Bruce. Lawyer Leo F. Longo, representing Haliburton Forest, presented a request to adjourn, explaining that his initial motion to dismiss was premature as necessary consultations had not yet happened.
Catharine Gonnsen, Laurie Wheeler, Larry Lowenstein and Douglas Buchanan have each appealed separately to the OMB with the same concerns: that a biochar facility would be a noxious use, that it is a waste processing plant, that the bylaw is not consistent with provincial policy and that the use does not conform to the Dysart et al and Haliburton County official plans.
In the notice to dismiss from Haliburton Forest it states: “none of the reasons set out in the filed appeals disclose any apparent land use planning ground upon which the appeals could be allowed in whole or in part by the board in this matter.”
The document states that the facility is “neither a ‘noxious use’ nor a ‘waste processing plant’” and goes on to say that it conforms with the official plans and is consistent with provincial policy.
Haliburton Forest first came to council with a request to rezone the property from general industrial, extractive industrial and rural type 1 to general industrial 8 exception. On Jan. 23, council voted to approve the rezoning application.
The site has previously been used as a wood pellet manufacturing business.
On Friday, it was determined that the full hearing would be Aug. 29, 30 and 31.
(Should Haliburton Forest move forward with their motion to dismiss, a hearing date set for July 28 has been set.)
In order to move ahead with their plans to build a biochar facility, Haliburton Forest must also receive approval from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, which Dysart councillors have argued would negate the appellants’ claims that it is noxious.
In an affidavit from the Forest’s managing director and Haliburton Forest Biochar Inc. director Malcolm Cockwell, he says local public sentiment is largely supportive of their project. He notes Drag and Spruce Lakes Property Owners Association’s executive voted against filing an appeal to the OMB.
He also said the four appellants would not personally have much interaction with the facility, which is located at minimum 1.25 kilometres as the crow flies from the closest appellant’s home. (The farthest, according to the affidavit, is 3.62 kilometres.)
Many attended the brief meeting on Friday, though the group was a mix of supporters and detractors as well as a few neutral parties.
Haliburton Forest Biochar had previously intended to have the equipment delivered and operating on the site by this July.