Edwardsburgh-Cardinal Citizens Against Spencerville ED-19 Dump (CAD) – After receiving previously undisclosed e-mails obtained through Access to Information, CAD has learned that Leeds and Grenville Counties Council had no intention of engaging with the public on ED-19 until after the completion of a sale to Tomlinson was finalized.
The Ministry of the Environment Code of Practice on consultation requires Counties Council to consult with the public early and often and transparently. In addition, the existing 20 year old approval for the ED-19 Dump requires the Counties to consult with a Public Liaison Committee formed specifically for this purpose. After forming the committee and having several early meetings dating back to 2015, the newly discovered emails confirm the Counties specifically chose not to engage the liaison committee in their secret negotiations with Tomlinson.
In response to a question posed by the MOECC on this matter, on July 6, 2016, CAO Andy Brown noted that:
“I will have a discussion with Michael Walters from Tomlinson to develop a strategy to deal with the public… As far as the public liaison committee, at this time we [have] no plans to have them involved in our discussions/negotiations with Tomlinson. Since it is a transaction between the 2 parties and we have entered into a ‘confidentiality agreement’ it wouldn’t be appropriate to involve the Committee until such time as there’s an agreement (if one is achieved).”
Then in a response to a question posed by Deputy Mayor (Edwardsburgh-Cardinal) Peggy Taylor, dated January 20, 2017, CAO Brown noted in an email that:
“the Counties has nothing requiring a public meeting prior to any work on ED-19. Having said that, the roadway improvement on Byers Road will likely require a Class Environmental Assessment and thus some public notice. In regards to the Provisional Certificate of Approval, unless the owner/operator proposes any changes to the terms and conditions of the certificate, then there will be no need for a public meeting. So far, we’ve told Tomlinson that we are not doing any changes to the Certificate and it is being sold as is.”
Instead of undertaking meaningful consultation in advance of a planned sale to Tomlinson, Counties Council hired a communications consultant who, along with CAO Brown, conspired to confuse and obfuscate what the Counties were up to with Tomlinson. In a note that the consultant sent to CAO Brown just prior to the disastrous Counties Council meeting in February in Spencerville, the consultant notes that:
“Hello Andy, I should have the Q and A document to you this afternoon. Let me know your thoughts on the release, the fact sheets and comms plan when you can and we’ll get them finalized. Hope you like them ok. On the release, I would suggest we sen[d] it out on Monday or Tuesday as we don’t want to give critics a chance to formalize a response before the meeting. It is best to have them try and make their points later leaving your comments as the ONLY ones out there in the media.”
CAO Brown then solicited the final approval from Tomlinson for said “communication strategy,” asking Tomlinson:“I was wondering if you could take a quick read and relay to me any improvement, errors (I’m sure I did a few), and such. Once I’ve heard back from you, I’ll finalize it and forward it to the Township to distribute, as well as post on our websites.”
“Counties Council has not engaged in good faith public consultation on the outrageous idea of a mega-dump for imported waste in our municipality. Instead, they developed a very poorly executed political communications strategy using taxpayers’ dollars to mislead the very people paying for that work. Warden Jones and her colleagues at Counties Council are continuing with that strategy in refusing to answer questions from us or our legal counsel. All of these actions are contrary to MOECC’s Code of Conduct for consultation. They are also contrary to what we have every right to expect from our elected representatives. These facts will be presented to the Minster and Ministry in a formal letter of complaint. We look forward to the new Minister of the Environment voiding this approval or sending it to the Environmental Review Tribunal.” – Kyle Johnston, Spokesperson, Citizens Against the ED-19 Dump (CAD)