After two productive days of mediation, the Bio‑Fuels Citizens’ Committee, appellants in the appeal before the Environmental Review Tribunal of Ontario, have signed an agreement with Woolwich Bio-En. This means that the appeal is now withdrawn and the company is free to proceed with its plans to build a facility in the north end of Elmira to extract bio-gas from bio- mass and burn the gas for the production and sale of electrical and heat energy.
The appeal did not succeed in relocating the plant, but mediation has led to the formation of a Citizens’ Liaison Committee (CLC) with considerable latitude to ensure that the stringent operating requirements put in place for the facility by the Ministry of the Environment are scrupulously adhered to. The company has agreed to provide funds for the operation of the CLC and, separate from this, to furnish a one-time letter of credit for $25,000.00 to be drawn upon for expert, non-legal technical advice, should the need arise. These funds must be matched, giving the CLC a total of $50,000.00 to be used over the life of the facility until its final decommissioning.
The company has agreed to furnish the CLC in a timely fashion with all the reports that it is required to make during the operation of the plant, including ongoing detailed counts of all heavy trucks entering or leaving the plant, the time of arrival and departure, the net weight of the trucks, and the nature of the materials transported. The company further agrees to furnish timely information about complaints as may be specifically requested by the CLC, in addition to quarterly reports of complaints, should they occur. The company agrees to ensure that the phone line for receipt of complaints from the public is monitored either at the facility or by a person available to be onsite within a typical 30 minute commute to the facility. This will ensure that any complaint can be investigated and addressed in a timely way. The company will have a seat on the CLC, but agrees that the majority of votes will always be held by members of the public.
The initial CLC will be made up of two members chosen by the appellant group and two chosen by the company. This group will choose an unspecified number of other members to be chosen from the public. Advertisements inviting interested parties to apply will appear shortly. Once the final membership of the committee is chosen, one of the members chosen by the company will resign. The President of Woolwich Bio-En and the members of the CLC will appear together before the Council of Woolwich to ask for assistance in ensuring that the committee functions with full effectiveness.