The Port Authority is now on the record stating they believe the Energy from Waste Plant proposed by Port Fuels and Material Services Inc. is a permitted use on the Port Authority's industrial lands at the foot of Sherman Avenue North.
TPR asked the Port Authority a series of questions after the Port Authority applied for severances to their properties north of Burlington Street between Hillyard Road and Wilcox Street.
"The proposed facility is consistent with the uses contemplated in this industrial area, and is consistent with the vision outlined in the City’s Urban Official Plan, to “encourage public and private partnerships that will contribute to a sustainable waste management system… (including) the promotion of new methods of waste disposal, including energy from waste.”", wrote Port Authority Manager of Communications Larissa Fenn in response to questions from The Public Record.
They plan to move forward with the project if PFMSI is successful with the Ministry of Environment Screening Process.
This is the first decisive statement from the Port Authority stating they intent to approve the Plant as being allowed under the current "K" Industrial Zoning.
The City of Hamilton states it is not a permitted use.
The Port Authority says the Energy from Waste Plant provides an opportunity for economic development and waste reduction.
"Hamilton is an ideal place to launch a clean-tech cluster in Ontario," states Fenn. "This facility will position the port to offer a source of competitively-priced green energy, creating a cost advantage for companies locating in Hamilton."
Fenn says the plant "will provide a cost-effective waste solution for port tenants, and will reduce the port’s overall environmental footprint by treating waste close to source, while creating clean energy."
The plant proposal is attracting community opposition related to concerns about emissions and transportation of waste.
Community members are also concerned the plant may convert in the future to handle more profitable hazardous waste.
During a November 13, 2014 second public meeting, Lynda Lukasik expressed disappointment at a lack of answers from Port Fuels and Material Services Inc. regarding the exact levels of emissions, and other details about environmental impacts.
Local MPP Andrea Horwath rose in the Ontario Legislative Assembly early in November asking for a full environmental assessment, saying Hamilton's airshed is already overburdened with pollution and the proposed plant technology is unproven.
New Ward 3 Councillor Matthew Green said, at the time, that the public meeting was lacking in science, instead displaying sale pitches and trademarked marketing names for the technology.
The Port Authority's severance applications will be heard by Hamilton's Committee of Adjustment next Thursday, December 11 at 1:30pm on the first floor of City Hall.
Severances are heard by the Committee of Adjustment when they do not involve changes to zoning.
[In cases where a change in zoning is requested alongside a severance, the CoA usually grants severance conditional on zoning change approval by Council.]
Severances, and other property line changes, are fairly routine for large commercial and industrial properties.
Severances can be denied if created lots are not in compliance with the official plan.
The Port Authority's severances comply with official plans.
The public is able to speak in regards to any matter in front of Committee of Adjustment. In this case, speaking only to the severance and not to the proposed energy from waste plant.
City of Hamilton Position on Energy from Waste Plant
The City of Hamilton's position is not changed:
"A private energy from waste plant is not permitted in the J, JJ or K districts in by-law 6593," wrote Steve Robichaud, the City's Chief Planner, in response to TPR questions on the severance applications.
"Based on the information provided to date and staff's understanding on the nature of the use, the use is not permitted under current zoning."
The City and The Port are on a collision course regarding the proposed development.
As we noted in mid-November, this project appears to be heading for the Courts to settle the difference between the City and Ports positions.
Reasons for Severance
The Port Authority states the severances are needed to create distinct parcels "where the uses are very dissimilar".
The current lot includes a commercial strip mall that houses a restaurant, a kitchen for food trucks, and other shops; a rail transload warehouse, and the proposed Energy from Waste facility.
"The change will also allow HPA increased flexibility as a landholder with respect to future sale or development of the properties," states Fenn.
"The proposed lot configuration formalizes a substantial, permanent buffer between each facility and the surrounding community."
Response from Councillor Green
Councillor Green says the community is "watching this issue closely" and he is taking a closer look at the City's official plan before making a direct statement on the severance applications.
The severances will likely be approved next Thursday. At some point in the near future, the provincial Ministry of Environment will make its decision on the environment assessment.
If the province's approves the Energy from Waste plant, the Port Authority will need to seek building permits before moving forward with construction and renovations.
To get a building permit from the City of Hamilton, the Port will need a "zoning verification" certificate from the Planning Department stating the building permit sought is a permitted use.
Councillor Chad Collins, who is outspoken in his opposition to the plant, says the City will then deny the building permit as a non-permitted use.
At this point, the Port Authority can either apply for a zoning change or take the City to court to get an order from a Superior Court judge for the building permits to be issued.
Full Committee of Adjustment Package:
Download CoA Severance Application Hearing Documents.
Below is the full email answers from the Hamilton Port Authority's Communications Manager Larissa Fenn. Questions from TPR are in Bold.
Reason for this variance request?
To clarify, HPA is not seeking a variance to the zoning, but rather is applying for a series of severances.
The proposed severances, creating six new lots on Pier 15, will create distinct parcels where the uses are very dissimilar (e.g. a commercial strip-mall, a rail transload warehouse, and the proposed Port Fuels facility).
The proposed lot configuration formalizes a substantial, permanent buffer between each facility and the surrounding community.
The change will also allow HPA increased flexibility as a landholder with respect to future sale or development of the properties.
Does this variance formalize the position of the Port Authority on PFMSI’s proposal?
As an organization, HPA is supportive of innovation and environmental sustainability. Port Fuels’ proposal combines responsible waste management with the generation of green energy, and we see it as a very positive initiative.
· Part of HPA’s rationale in pursuing this development is the belief that Hamilton is an ideal place to launch a clean-tech cluster in Ontario.
· This facility will position the port to offer a source of competitively-priced green energy, creating a cost advantage for companies locating in Hamilton.
· It will provide a cost-effective waste solution for port tenants, and will reduce the port’s overall environmental footprint by treating waste close to source, while creating clean energy.
Specifically, what is the Port Authority position on permitted use on the lands as it relates to the City of Hamilton position that PFMSI proposal is not a permitted use?
The proposed facility is consistent with the uses contemplated in this industrial area, and is consistent with the vision outlined in the City’s Urban Official Plan, to “encourage public and private partnerships that will contribute to a sustainable waste management system… (including) the promotion of new methods of waste disposal, including energy from waste.” (5.1.14)
Port Fuels has been following a detailed public process, and there has been a healthy discussion about the project. In the event that Port Fuels is successful with its application through the MOE Environmental Screening process, this severance will help ensure the community has clarity about the boundaries of the Port Fuels property.
A verification of zoning is one of the steps the project proponent still must complete. Questions arising in that discussion are likely to focus on many of the same issues that are being addressed through the Environmental Screening (specifically, any potential impacts on neighbours). In the interest of sharing information that is as complete as possible, it made sense to focus on the Environmental Screening process first.
You may be interested a recent survey of public opinion on energy-from-waste technology in Canada: http://www.canadianmanufacturing.com/sustainability/public-opinion-energy-from-waste-high-canada-poll-142675/