Orica appeals council decision on explosives site to OMB

GRAND VALLEY – Orica Canada Inc. announced on June 5 it has appealed the East Luth­er Grand Valley council’s de­nial of its application for the permanent rezoning of its Grand Valley site.

In the appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board, Orica re­ques­ted its storage business be allowed to continue operating during the appeal. A company press release stated the site has been operated safely for 15 years. The company itself has been involved with the site only in the past three years or so, and it has hugely increased the amount of explosives being stored there.

Orica is a supplier of com­mercial explosives to the min­ing, construction and quarry industries and operates 32 faci­lities throughout Canada.

“We regret that we have been forced to file this appeal,” said Richard Brown, vice-president of Orica Canada. “We had been working diligently with the [East Luther] Grand Valley council, staff planner and community to address their concerns. Indeed, on the very day of the council’s decision, at the request of the mayor and staff planner, we provided the council a hydrogeological study and a five-page letter of undertaking detailing addi­tional steps we were prepared to take.”

But, the press release noted, “council refused to consider the very information it requested and, without prior notice to us of its impending vote, denied our application. This left us with no choice but to seek to preserve our rights through the Ontario Municipal Board.”

The company added that the hydrogeological study “pro­vides direct scientific evidence in relation to the most funda­mental concern that has been raised by the community – the potential risks posed by Orica’s site to the Luther Marsh.”

Residents at a public meet­ing in early April also cited concerns with traffic, the amount of explosives being stored, the preparations for hand­ling emergencies, possible spills, security, and safety for children in a nearby school.

The company stated that its immediate concern is coun­cil’s unwillingness to assure it can continue to operate during the appeals process. “Forcing Orica to close its site under these circumstance is not only inconsistent with general principles of fairness, good faith, and common sense, but it is also contrary to practices elsewhere in Ontario and to the council’s earlier treatment of this very site,” said Brown.

He added, “The council seeks to force Orica to cease operations at a site that has been operating without incident for 15 years despite repeated assurances that our site would be rezoned, publicly approving $2.5-million in improvements and presenting absolutely no scientific evidence that Orica’s continued operations pose a threat to either the Luther Marsh or the safety of the com­mu­nity.

“The council’s action not only harms Orica but also risks the supply of a material critical to the aggregate industry, which, in turn, provides vital materials for homes, roads and other infrastructure projects in Ontario. Most importantly, it jeopardizes the livelihood of 17 families who earn a living at the Orica Grand Valley site and the success of local businesses who support and benefit from Orica’s operations.”

The company stated it is dedi­cated to protecting the environment for future genera­tions and to the mission of not injuring anyone, ever. Further, officials there believe Orica can continue to be a significant, contributing corporate citizen of the Grand Valley community by helping to diversify its local economy through employment of local residents, support for local businesses, and through its committed preference for local contractors.