Saturday, December 31, 2011


Earlier this month I spoke to Woolwich Council about CPAC. I thought that I had made clear how thrilled I was with CPAC's progress and actions relevant to the cleanup of the Elmira Aquifers. I also however advised Council that there was a fly in the ointment and that was the basic model of public consultation present here in Woolwich. The basic model is what is known as a committee of Council. This model while having a few positives to it, dances on a knife edge of drawbacks and dangers. The most obvious and immediate one is the danger of this allegedly independent citizens' committee becoming nothing more than a mouthpiece of Council. Even worse would be a mouthpiece of one or two members of Council.

Any committee of ordinary citizens can be intimidated, threatened or even bribed into submission. Peer pressure is also a constant whether for good or bad. Even a committee of extraordinary citizens, as I believe we currently have, can be jerked around, manipulated and bafflegabbed. This can be accomplished primarily through control of the process. This process includes things like scheduling of meetings whether private or public. It includes the location of the meetings. It includes who is invited to the meetings. When non voting members are being routinely brought to meetings for example it could possibly be to simply buttress the position of one participant. The precedent can be set that all meetings for example must be in the Township building and hence can only be called by the Township. Who sets the Agenda is vitally important. Who decides unilaterally or otherwise as to what is added or dropped from the Agenda? Who is in sole control of the Minutes? Who amends the Minutes and is it the Amended Minutes that are posted on-line? Who physically controls all old Minutes and are they easily available to all voting members for research or inspection? Are meetings rescheduled or cancelled by consenus or unilaterally? Finally it is the Council alone who decide whom to appoint and whom to kick off. They do this without consultation, without warning and without any form or attempt at fair play or transparency. The Chair and the Township both wield extraordinary power and influence in this situation. The Mayor being Chair magnifies this.

Please do not misunderstand me here. To date this new CPAC has done wonderful things and I have publicly at CPAC, at Council and here said exactly that. But there have been rumblings including public ones. Again I have brought the Mayor to task for his possibly arrogant and critical behaviour towards certain CPAC members at public meetings. This has improved. This CPAC now know what they are up against with Chemtura and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. What they deserve after being appointed by Woolwich Council is control of their own processes and freedom to pursue their duties in a democratic and fair manner. They do not need a third front being opened simply for ideological reasons or for control purposes by Council or its' representatives.

Friday, December 30, 2011


Yesterday's Kitchener-Waterloo Record carrys the following encouraging news: "Bruce County towns consider storing nuclear waste". Isn't that just charming? But it gets better. Not only is it Canada's highest level of radioactive waste but one of those "Bruce County" towns is Walkerton. Whoa that's not very far from Elmira (north-west) at all. The other town is Southampton and Port Elgin on the shores of Lake Huron.

I truly wonder if any community would be willing hosts if they had significant alternate employment available. This is the carrot and stick approach. We are in a recession and Bruce County as well as northern Ontario have always had issues providing jobs and keeping young people in the community. A spokesperson for the Nuclear Waste Management Organization stated that "This project will not be imposed on any community". That is only slightly reassuring. The recession has been imposed and they are offerring jobs. Secondly what most likely will be imposed on the community is a gilded version of the truth. How can any informed community have any faith or confidence in either governments or the Ontario Ministry of the Environment? Client driven consultants routinely write the "technical" reports that their clients want. These consultants are selling their credentials to the highest bidder. Mental prostitution it could be called.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Jeff Outhit of the K-W Record has used one of my favourite expressions namely it's "...a solution in search of a problem". This is in his Dec. 24/11 article titled "GO train idea better then the service". Jeff was referring to comments from MPP Elizabeth Witmer regarding local citizens supporting relatively inexpensive GO trains versus the very expensive proposed LRT system. The $818 million Light Rapid Transit appears to be a very expensive solution in search of a problem at this point in time. In regards to the GO train from Kitchener to Toronto the problem already exists. It's called the 401 and it's overcrowded, dangerous, frustrating and environmentally unsound. Hence the GO train is a fabulous idea. The problem is both the frequency and the speed of the GO trains. They run twice in the morning and twice in the evening and so far the word run could be replaced with either walk or crawl. As Jeff states the new service "...will draw people who can't afford cars, people who hate driving, people making occasional trips and drivers avoiding the worst weather". Furthermore "People drive because time is precious and public transit takes forever.". This is true in Waterloo Region and with the current GO train. Toronto however has a better idea. Public transit is actually superior in Toronto. It's cheaper, faster and extremely frequent. This is why it is widely used by everyone, not just those who can't afford cars. People are not stupid. If a service is superior, reasonably priced and environmentally sound they will flock to it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Kitchener, Cambridge and Elmira all seem to be discussing sanitary sewers these days. Yes sanitary sewers are the ones most associated with toilets and your local STP (sewage treatment plant). Politicians and bureaucrats seem to favour Wastewater Treatment Plants as their chosen name.

As recently as this month Councillor Bauman at Woolwich Council has indicated that more work still needs to be done to seperate storm water (ie. rain) flows from the sanitary sewers. Apparently above and beyond the issues of eavestroughs and sump pumps in the Birdland subdivision in Elmira being hooked up to the sanitary sewers, is storm water in St. Jacobs physically entering holes in sanitary sewer manhole covers.

In yesterday's K-W Record, Terry Pender wrote an article about sewer pipe upgrades for the City of Kitchener titled " Population increase in Kitchener will prompt sewer pipe upgrades". We are advised that most sewer pipes contents flow by gravity to the STP although there are 23 pumping stations in Kitchener's system to assist the flow towards the STP. Also we are advised that the older the system the more sewage backups occur. Hence Kitchener had five sewage backups (as often into basements of houses) in 2010, Waterloo had ten backups and the prize goes to Cambridge which had thirteen backups.

Speaking of Cambridge they have been experiencing horrible backups pre Christmas into homes, most probably as a result of trucks taking pumped out sewage from the new Conestoga College location and dumping it down manholes in a residential subdivision. For more info about this please see the link to the right which will take you to the Cambridge Advocate website.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I have previously written that both the Minutes and Agendas of CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) meetings are now posted on the Woolwich Township website. This fulfills one more promise of our Mayor Todd Cowan, in regards to greater transparency and accountability surrounding CPAC and he is due credit for this action.

But..... The last CPAC meeting was on November 24, 2011. Today is December 27/11 and the next CPAC meeting isn't scheduled until late January 2012. Both the public and CPAC members should have the Minutes of this last meeting sooner rather than later. What do you say Mayor Cowan?

And..... Why in the name of anything did the Township include a link to Chemtura along with the CPAC Minutes and Agenda? Primarily Chemtura's website I would normally say is their business. They can put whatever propaganda, public relations drivel or outright bull on it they want suggesting how socially "reponsible" they are. However incorporating that into the CPAC information is both offensive and outrageous. If this company were so socially, ethically and morally upright we wouldn't have had our water supply destroyed in the first place. Secondly they would have cleaned it up properly by now if they were 1/10th as good as their website says. C'mon Todd and company. Please give this a second think.
DNAPL (Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid) FOUND AGAIN AT CHEMTURA

I am slowly beginning to realize that one of the tactics used by polluters and their consultants is the simple tactic of deflection. For example rather than discussing, debating or arguing how to remove DNAPL from their Elmira property they are instead arguing over what form the DNAPL is in. Is it Free Phase, as in pools of collected heavier than water liquid, or is it Residual which means it is in much smaller ganglia or filaments in the pore spaces between soil particles? To a certain degree these arguments are irrelevant. Both forms of DNAPL cause longlasting groundwater pollution although the Free Phase generally indicates larger, longerlasting volumes.

Free Phase agreed/admitted to has been found on both sides of the Canagagiue Creek running through Chemtura's (Uniroyal) site. It has been found in M2, TPW2, RPW5 on the west side and near RPE2 (OW148) on the east side. When I say found I mean as in physically and visually captured and contained, for example in a sample bottle. Chemtura's consultants (CRA) again in last month's Progress Report, partially discussed yesterday here in the Advocate, reiterate their inflammatory and quite frankly stupid use of the terms direct and indirect evidence. This ridiculous definition, most probably invented by themselves has long been disagreed with by the old CPAC and other citizens. Table D.1 has a very long list of DNAPL chemicals found in the groundwater at well OW10. Some of these chemical concentrations are above the 1% solubility rule indicating the presence of nearby DNAPL. The sheer number of DNAPL chemicals is of huge significance as has been submitted to CPAC in the past by both myself and the former Soil & Water sub-committee of CPAC.

Hence this section in the November Progress Report (Pg. 6 & 7 + Appendix D) is merely one more in a decades long history of reports DIRECTLY proving the existence of DNAPL, both Free Phase and Residual on the Chemtura site. Stop the semantics and bull and start removing it.

Monday, December 26, 2011


Not too surprisingly (Christmas time) this report dated December 15/11 was delivered late this month namely last Friday Dec. 23/11. The horrible results during 2011 continued throughout the month of November. While the onsite pumping, thank God, is sucessfully keeping up to its' modelled and targeted pumping rate, the offsite pumping continues in the dumpster. Not only has the bulk of November pumping been bad but it's getting worse. The two lowest pumping months (offsite) are October and November. The reasons/excuses given may or may not be legitimate. I'm at the point where I no longer care. What is important is restoring the pumping not whether the reasons given, are or aren't truthful. Examples for November include a computer targeted rate of 11.4 litres/second for both offsite wells W3 and W4. Their actual pumping rate was 2.2 and 3.7 l/sec. These targeted rates are the numbers that Chemtura's long time consultants, Conestoga Rovers & Assoc. (CRA) have modelled in order to allegedly clean up the Elmira Aquifers. It is bad enough being sold a bill of goods in regards to the cleanup of Elmira's groundwater being possible simply by pump and treat (hydraulic containment) technology; what is worse is the complete failure of Chemtura to even be able to follow either their own initially low goals or even their recently (June 2009) reduced pumping goals.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Saturday, December 24, 2011


The above title is the same one used in a story in yesterday's Kitchener-Waterloo record written by Jeff Outhit. This stoty highlights concerns by a pair of residents of the village of Mannheim, southwest of Kitchener. Apparently one of the Regional wells there has been pumping and discharging water 24 hours a day into a local waterway. This at a time when the Region are preaching water conservation. On top of that is the fact that has per capita water useage is plummeting in Waterloo Region, the per liter rates of water are still rising. This anomoly has not gone unnoticed. This last fact was pointed out just recently by Councillor Poffenroth at Woolwich Council. Mayor Cowan replied that conservation is actually saving regional taxpayers in the long run as it delays the need for a Lake Erie pipeline substantially. Regarding the 24/7 water discharging apparently there is a turbidity (dirty water) issue being overcome with the pumping.

Today's Woolwich Observer has a larges story (2 pages) titled "Wind power likely to grow, despite controversy". This story highlights a Kitchener based company called Local Initiative for future Energy (L.I.F.E.) Co-op. They are currently working on a community project building a turbine near St. Agatha which will be hooked into the provincial power grid. Here in Woolwich Township however, at the moment, only farm scale turbines are permitted due to zoning restrictions dealing with height restrictions. With an Official Plan review underway these zoning restrictions could change and the province is certainly encouraging municipalities to do so. The most recent commissioned by the province has allegedly found no direct health risks to humans from wind turbines. Unfortunately this report was released by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment which in my informed opinion has a little less than zero credibility. I grant you that their latest and newest Minister Jim Bradley certainly has the credentials and pedigree for the job.

Friday, December 23, 2011


Well today and yeterday are a veritable paradise of local environmental news in both the Elmira Independent and the Woolwich Observer. For a start the Independent has the following article "Township to reject Hawk Ridge subdivision". The Observer has this story "Deeming land use incompatible, Woolwich to fight proposed Union St. development".

Most of the information from both newspapers comes from last Tuesday night's Woolwich Council meeting and I'll try to limit my comments to points that I haven't already written about here in the Advocate. For example Dan Kennaley (Woolwich staff) in the Independent has indicated that Staff could still change their recommendation to Council based upon two upcoming peer reviews of their compatibility concerns. Mr. Kennaley also indicated that as far as he understands the M.O.E. distance seperation rules between industry and residential take precedence not the Worst Case Scenario and related issues as suggested by Sulco and Chemtura. The Elmira Independent are firmly in support of Staff's current position, Council's , and other citizens who have come forward.

The Woolwich Observer have succinctly pointed out that many parties oppose Hawk Ridge and the only supporter to date is the developer, themselves. The Observer and the Independent both quoted Delegations presented Tuesday night from Sulco (Ron Koniuch), APT-Chemtura (Ken Driedger) and from myself (Elmira Environmental Hazards Team). Ken Driedger advised Council "You're going to have blood on your hands-if not legally, then morally". This was after advising Council that people moving into a subdivision should have a reasonable expectation of safety and yet that was not possible in this location.

What is becoming clear to me is that common sense and safety are going head to head with profits, rules and regulations. Woolwich Council are doing the right thing. This subdivision should not be built and as hopefully will not be lost in the process, more must be done to protect already existing homeowners in Elmira's mini chemical valley.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Yesterday's Kitchener-Waterloo Record has the following story: " Canadian Solar sells solar energy projects". Ostensibly a good news story from the comments of both buyer and seller, nevertheless I'm a little uneasy. The buyer is TransCanada Corp. currently in the news for their proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline . Apparently TransCanada are major players not only in oil and natural gas but also in renewable energy supplies. I can't help but think of a recent television documentary I saw which pretty clearly implied that when General Motors got involved in electric cars ten or fifteen years ago, they essentially scuppered them intentionally. It's very nice to see solar energy being taken so seriously and also to realize that significant energy can be created via a renewable resource (sun). My hope is that ultimately all renewables will be used for the good of both the environment as well as human beings worldwide.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


There were three excellent Delegations at last night's Woolwich Council meeting regarding the proposed Hawk Ridge Homes on Union St. in Elmira. A lack of modesty is including my Delegation being excellent along with Ken Driedger's and Ron Koniuch. Ron was representing Sulco Chemicals (Canada Colours), Ken was representing APT-Chemtura and yours truly was representing the Elmira Environmental Hazards Team. Mayor Todd Cowan in his capacity as CPAC Interim Chair I believe did briefly mention informal non support for the proposed subdivision next to the former Varnicolor Chemical, Sulco, Nutrite (Yara) and Chemtura (Uniroyal).

Ken Driedger clarified Chemtura's ongoing tribulations in the U.S. and how they are paying millions of dollars in penalties for numerous contaminated sites there. His concern is that they will be focusing time, effort and money on U.S. environmental problems rather than those here in Elmira. He also emphasized that their local Worst Case Scenario is a legitimate threat and that residential construction next to their plant is totally inappropriate and wrong.

Ron Koniuch the general manager at Sulco described their long term efforts, including their Citizens Advisory Panel (CAP), to make their plant safe for people and the environment. This CAP includes one member of the Elmira Environmental Hazards Team, namely Rich Clausi. Ron felt that a new residential subdivision beside their facility was a huge, dangerous step backwards in their ongoing attempts to be good corporate citizens.

Yours truly asked Woolwich Council not to give approval to Hawk Ridge based upon approvals from either the Region of Waterloo or the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. I went into some detail about the history of their mismanagement and in the case of the M.O.E. deliberate misleading and inaccurate statements about Varnicolor Chemical twenty years ago. The Varnicolor site is located right across First St. from the Hawk Ridge proposal. I also advised that both these bodies had given the new owner (Phillip Environmental) an idemnity from further environmental liability. The current owners however are on the hook for both new deep monitoring wells AND the removal of 200 tonnes of contaminated soil. Clearly the pump & treat (hydraulic containment) system installed in 1994 and designed to remediate within ten years has failed. Furthermore I pointed out two other failures by the Region and the City of Kitchener to protect homebuyers. This was the Ralgreen Cres. subdivision and the townhouses which were abandoned for years beside the Ottawa St. Landfill in Kitchener. Council did vote to go to the impending Ontario Municipal Board hearing, having accepted Staff's recommendation not to approve either the zone change or the plan of subdivision. Kudos to Council for this morally correct decision.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Ususlly when I am commenting on or at least pointing out a newspaper article it is within a day or two of it's being published. Today however I wish to mention a K-W Record article written by Jeff Outhit dated last month, namely November 26, 2011. The title of the article is " Rail transit, fact and fiction". I would interpret this article as a low key disection of the honey, syrup and just plain unadorned lies to which our politicians treat us.

There are only five of the above detailed in this article from costs, purpose, need, technical consultation and demand by either the public or the politicians. For all five we the citizens are being sold a bill of goods. The basic purpose is "Primarily the project is intended to foster intensification and redevelopment within the Region's primary reurbanization area". So much for cheap public transit and environmental improvement. It would seem that there are many political motives involved including grandstanding and being seen once again as leaders within the Ontario community. Perhaps this might also include regional politicians looking at their political futures whether provincial or federal. It might also be simply grabbing this community's piece of the provincial and or federal pie. If funds are available now for transit projects then lets tailor our plan to suit the requirements and guidelines of the upper tier governments doling out the dough. Perhaps pigs at the trough is an appropriate metaphor when you consider that these pigs want both "free" government grants AND more taxes from regional taxpayers to support their grandiose plans.

Now is not the time financially and economically for this project. If and when times improve it may still not be the time for this particular project.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Friday afternoon I picked up a 58 page Engineering and Planning Services Report from Woolwich Township in regards to Hawk Ridge Homes. For most of the last twenty years plus I clearly haven't paid enough attention to planning/zoning issues. There literally are way more issues and concerns around planning than I ever considered possible. At the same time what I read and see between the lines is the overarching belief/resignation ? that all growth, just about everywhere, all the time, is inevitable. Hence the prevalent attitude becomes mitigation. We can mitigate any and all problems.

What I like about this Report is that twice, on page 15 & 25 Staff clearly recommend that Council denys the zone change and plan of subdivision for Hawk Ridge.

What I also like is a huge can of worms that this Application has opened and that Staff are recognizing. Basically Staff are advising Council that new zoning may be required "to discourage or limit future expansion " at Sulco and Chemtura. This of course is due to the already existing nearby homes of Elmira residents. This elephant in the room needs to be addressed before one of the Worst Case scenarios occurs.

There are many things that I don't care for in this Report. One, as I suspected from the beginning these homes are what are deemed as affordable housing. Nothing wrong with that per se. The concern is that we will primarily have first time unsophisticated buyers, thrilled to be leaving rental accomodations, totally relying on government oversight as they leap, eyes tightly closed into their first owned homes. To my mind there is perhaps an attitude by some of preying on the vulnerable here.

Another concern deals with the reliance of Woolwich Staff upon Regional staff and they in turn upon Provincial staff, particularily the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. This process while convenient and easy is WRONG! Any reader of the Elmira Advocate knows of the long comprimised position of the M.O.E. locally here in Elmira. Their credibility, based upon their own poor behaviour and horrible track record dealing with groundwater protection and noxious air emissions, is in the dumpster. No level of government should be relying on them for advice on anything other than public relations and spin doctoring. For example the proponent for Hawk Ridge is advising that the groundwater is potable (drinkable). Really ? And would you or any other informed person actually be willing to do so? It is entirely possible that one aquifer in one location may not have any of their dozen chemicals individually above drinking water standards. To me that is simply more proof of how hopeless M.O.E. standards and oversight are, not how "good" the water is.

I expect tomorrow night will have a number of Delegations and I trust that Council will weigh common sense much heavier than Provincial planning rules and regulations.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


I will be contacting Woolwich Township to be a Delegate for this Tuesday evening at 7 PM. regarding the Hawk Ridge Homes subdivision. I expect that there will be a number of delegates appropriately speaking to this proposed subdivision from the viewpoint of potential air emissions coming from either Sulco or Chemtura. My delegation will be in regards to both past knowledge we have regarding Varnicolor Chemical as well as more recent information concerning the continued and ongoing "cleanup" of their site twenty years later. Once again twenty years of hydraulic containment (pump & treat) appears to be showing how truly ineffective it is as any kind of a serious remediation program. It was designed to contain not remediate. Perhaps in medicine instead of heart surgery we can use ongoing C.P.R. to save millions of dollars in costs. It makes just about as much sense as pump and treat technology versus source removal or elimination.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Technically this is additional news from the Committee of the Whole held last Tuesday night. Steve Kannon of the Woolwich Observer picked up on a few items that I missed including the following. Councillor Poffenroth has concerns that the proposed CHL designation for West Montrose would put too many restrictions on development in the area. Dan Kennaley of Woolwich staff was able to advise that the Cultural Heritage Landscape designation would not come into effect for minor changes that require only a building permit.

Regarding the Jigs Hollow Pit numerous residents made it clear that traditional berms were not an acceptable "solution" to the destruction of the beauty of the area. Furthermore residents, Woolwich staff and Council seemed genuinely surprised and upset that the Visual Impact Assessment had missed so many neighbours and residents and that it was so incomplete. The proponent of the pit will be given a second kick at the can in regards to improving the Assessment.

Numerous municipal charges will be increasing including interestingly gravel pit applications. It would be hard to dispute the amount of time and effort that Woolwich Staff have been putting into the myriad of local applications the past few years. Water and wastewater charges are also rising and the major reason seems to be the charges that the Region of waterloo are imposing on Woolwich Township. Councillor Poffenroth noted that conservation is sort of working in that demand is dropping but unfortunately the unit fees are still rising. Mayor Cowan while not totally disputing that observation noted however that $100 million in expansion projects have been deferred due to conservation efforts, including the proposed Great lakes Pipeline. This proposed Lake Erie Pipeline was slated for 2035 but could be pushed back five or more years due to conservation efforts. My wee mind suggests that it should be pushed back forever. Living within your means includes water availability and sewage availability. Do not kid yourselves. Neverending population growth is only possible through the degradation of our environment and planet. In other words it is not remotely sustainable.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


I admit it, I enjoy dreaming up the titles for my postings. The "Humour" part relates to a political cartoon in today's K-W Record. It shows federal Environment Minister Peter Kent receiving a stocking full of coal on Christmas morning. His response is a joyous "YIPPEE". Our federal Environment Minister is being portrayed as an environmental neandrathal and he's proud of it.

The "Fluoride" part of the headline refers to today's article in the K-W Record titled "After referendum, fluoride battle continues in court". This article has me a little bit stumped. In one sense I'm biased in that I supported the removal of fluoride from our drinking water hence I supported the position of Robert Fleming while opposing Dr. Harry Hoedino and Dr. Ira Kirshen. I attended a couple of the fluoride debates and combined with some research of my own I was very pleased with the referendum results. That being said I'm not sure of the benefit of pursuing the two Doctors in court now for alleged election financing violations.

The third item in my above headline deals with Kyoto. Thomas Walkom of the K-W Record has an Opinion piece in which he takes the federal Conservatives to task for walking away from Kyoto. It's one thing to complain and criticize a less than perfect treaty. Really how many multinational treaties sucessfully cover all the issues and problems? The best we hope for is a general framework and some major principles to be agreed upon and followed by the signatories. Mr. Walkom rightly points out that Canada has done no one any good by essentially kicking sand in the face of the rest of the world. No country is pristine and no country is blameless but Canada's outright rejection of the Kyoto treaty is wrong. My take is that politically the Conservatives are once again courting the United Staes who never signed on in the first place. Two wrongs do not make a right.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


There were three local environmental issues which brought me out to last night's Committee of the Whole meeting in Woolwich Council Chambers. Also I got to see and chat with former neighbours (West Montrose) and colleagues. Hello again to Les, Nancy & Gerry, Tony and Lynne. The three issues in reverse order of time spent last night are Hawk Ridge Homes, C.H.L. designation for West Montrose and finally the Jigs Hollow Pit (Kuntz).

Hawk Ridge Homes was put off until next Tuesday's Council meeting where it will be discussed further. The Cultural Heritage Landscape designation was passed by the Committee of the Whole and will (probably) be ratified by Council next Tuesday. After that it will go on to Regional Council where hopefully it will also pass. Mayor Cowan commented as to the unique jewel that Woolwich and the Region have with the West Montrose Covered Bridge and how important its' protection is to us.

The Jigs Hollow Pit is what brought out the Delegations last night. It is what the above title is all about. Isabella Price, Karen Bleckert, Laurie Breed, Jan Huisson, Lynne Hare, Gord Haywood and Bill Norris all spoke eloquently and passionately about life in the country atmosphere of Winterbourne and the Conestogo Golf Course subdivision. Comments included concerns around "cancer causing asphalt dust", noise, visual impacts and even the suggestion that a C.H.L. designation for the Winterbourne Bridge/Grand River area was appropriate. The asphalt dust issue is in regards to the Recycling aspect of this proposed pit which would include both asphalt and concrete recycling, in and of itself a good thing. The concerns raised by at least two of the speakers dealt with possible false pretenses by the proponents. The reasonable question that they raised was whether or not this is actually a Below Water Table application masquerading as an Above Water Table application. The other possibilty raised is whether this is actually a large scale recycling operation coming to Winterbourne, masquerading as a gravel pit. Apparently it is very easy after being established to amend the license to become a below water table pit and there are no formal limits on the volume of materials that could be recycled. These concerns are based upon recalculations of the volume of above water table gravel deposits available. These deposits are very small and hence the concerns that something is definitely amiss.

My earlier supposition that Council would fight less vigorously regarding this pit than the West Montrose and Hunder Pit in Conestogo has to be revisited in light of the very strong, informed community opposition.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


There were two very interesting conditions imposed on last November's Council approval in principle of the Jigs Hollow Pit. Firstly it had a sunset clause, specifically fifteen years. Believe me that is a breakthrough. Far too many pits have an "estimated" lifespan of ten to twenty years and the reality is that the owners simply slow down extraction near the end in order to keep the pit "open" and available for occasional extraction and loads. The other important condition was "vertical zoning". This means that there must be a maximum depth of extraction stipulated, often a depth which is above the water table. This also is a breakthrough and an excellent idea environmentally.

A peer review of the Visual Impact Assessment (VIA) done by the proponent has been completed. This peer review identifies a number of areas in the original VIA which are deficient. It includes visual impacts from numerous other homes as well as views from the Historic Driving Tour which is a regular tourist attraction promoted by the Region of Waterloo. Also visual impacts as seen from the Winterbourne Bridge were not adequately addressed. Overall I'm a little surprised by these visual impact issues. In my wee mind I would have thought that yes visual impacts are annoying and indeed would lessen property values and aesthetics for nearby residents. My understanding of the Aggregates Act however is that even significant visual and aesthetic values are completely discounted and undervalued. I would have thought that the repeated siting of gravel pits right along the Grand River and hence the removal of the filtering action of sand and gravel on the quality of groundwater discharging to the surface water of the river, would be the main issue. Apparently not. Thus I guess if one more neverending gravel pit is proposed, then those negatively affected must fight it with whatever tools are available.

Monday, December 12, 2011


I went on-line to Woolwich Township's website yesterday looking for a little headsup regarding gravel pit issues to be discussed at Tuesday night's Committee of the Whole meeting (6 PM.). What I found was seventeen pages about the proposed Cultural Heritage Landscape (CHL) designation for the West Montrose area and fourty-five pages dealing with the Jigs Hollow Pit (Kuntz) in Winterbourne.

I still am confident that between the excellent, years long effort by Bridgekeepers, combined with the support inside and outside the community; that they will sucessfully defeat the destruction of their beautiful community via aggregate extraction. Of interest is the comprimise on the geographical area of the proposed CHL. It does not include the existing Hoffer gravel pit up on Hwy # 86 nor does it include the newer subdivisions within West Montrose. Also the definition of "development" has been clarified within the CHL proposal. I believe that these changes are appropriate to address legitimate concerns of nearby residents.

The Jigs Hollow Pit is going to be a harder nut to crack. The old Council did not help by giving Approval in Principle last November after they had mostly all been removed by the voters. This was their last kick at the can and if memory serves former Councillor Murray Martin voted against that Approval. The new Council has had a number of Delegations from residents asking for a Visual Impact Study. Originally at least Staff were in support of the Approval in Principle for this proposed gravel pit. One Visual Impact Study has been produced by the proponent (Kuntz Sand & Gravel) and there has also been a peer review of that study. Quite frankly at this point in time I haven't fully read the fourty-five pages mentioned but hope to have it completed by tomorrow nite's meeting. My suggestion for those opposed to this pit is to give Council support by showing up tomorrow night at 6 pm.. When faced by an upcoming O.M.B. hearing (May 14-25/12) and prehearing conference (Feb. 16/12) instigated by the proponent; Council are not likely to throw Township money into the fight if they don't see significant citizen support for their actions.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Myself and one CPAC member (Vivienne Delaney) had the privilege of meeting our new M.P.P. and Ontario Environment Critic yesterday. Not only did he come straight from a meeting with the Waterloo Region District School board to meet with us, he had another meeting scheduled immediately after us.. My understanding is that he has been at the legislature all week and Fridays currently are his chance to get local constituency work done. Overall I am very impressed with Michael Harris, our rookie M.P.P. . From what I observed he will handle the learning curve admirably. He has informed himself both prior to the election on issues such as local gravel pits and Bio-En as well as since the election and was well prepared for our meeting regarding Chemtura , Varnicolor, Hawk Ridge etc.. Regarding Hawk Ridge Homes I was a little disappointed in that he seemed to feel that buyers should inform themselves and do their own due diligence. Vivienne suggested otherwise as most homebuyers essentially rely on the Municipality having appropriately zoned an area for residential development. In the Hawk Ridge case if the developer eventually prevails over Woolwich Council’s legitimate concerns I am very doubtful that prospective buyers will be informed of either the controversy or the Ontario Municipal Board (O.M.B.) hearing.
In regards to Chemtura I provided Mr. Harris with maps, drawings, Figures and Tables primarily produced by Conestoga Rovers & Assoc., long time consultants to Uniroyal/Chemtura. Most of this paperwork I had also supplied to the new CPAC last April, immediately after we were all appointed to CPAC. This data showed where the skeletons per se are still buried as well as showing plume maps indicating other sources of contamination to the Municipal drinking water aquifer. It was very clear that Michael Harris will have no difficulty picking up a knowledge of Woolwich environmental issues and will only be limited by the amount of time he is able to devote to this one area. At the end of the meeting he cut to the chase and asked what is it that we feel he can do for us and Woolwich citizens. My response was to suggest that he light a fire under the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. I made it very clear that to date, the new Municipal Council are maintaining their environmental promises and commitments and the new CPAC are as well. The problem is the M.O.E. and anything he could do to assist CPAC or Woolwich Council in the execution of their environmental duties, would be wonderful.

Friday, December 9, 2011


The above title is also the title of an article in this week's Elmira Independent, written by Janet Baine. Although this story is filled with interesting facts there are a couple that leaped out at me. Firstly "In 1999, the Regional Municipality of Waterloo noticed increasing levels of sodium and chloride in almost all their water supply wells." "...the region concluded that the main source was from winter road de-icing...". The reason this is so incredible is because the majority of the Region's wells are deep below surface often 100 feet below. In Cambridge many wells are even below the overburden into the bedrock. Hence salt (sodium chloride) deposited at surface, on roads was making it's way through the sand, silt and clay down to most of the deep drinking wells in Waterloo Region. This clarifys for me just how likely and probable that all the liquid solvents and fuels spilled and dumped over the last half century by industry have also entered all our drinking water aquifers and wells. I find it interesting that the Region have no problem advising citizens that innocuous salt penetrates the overburden soils easily yet they routinely deny that industrial liquid pollution can do so or is even likely to do so. This double standard needs to stop.

I've already mentioned that Hawk Ridge Homes will be on the Agenda. Also the CHL (Cultural Heritage landscape) designation for the West Montrose area will be up for discussion. Committee of the Whole meetings are held of course in the Woolwich Council Chambers and are an excellent opportunity for citizens to see local government in action.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


It was only a few years ago that I and I suspect others considered green energy to be a gimmick. As far back as public school we were shown little working models of a solar panel that could convert sunshine into electricity and make a little blade rotate. Nowadays, although more expensive per watt of conventiuonal electricity produced, nevertheless solar and wind are producing significant amounts of energy. Today's K-W Record has two stories and one Opinion article dealing primarily with Wind and Solar green energy. The Opinion piece is titled "Hasty leap into green energy has been costly". The news stories are "Energy czar warns Ontario falling short" and "Costs of solar falling according to study by Queen's prof". The Opinion article by Martin Regg Cohn does reference problems with Ontario's green energy but also states "Operating costs for renewable energy are likely to decline significantly in future, while conventional energy will become more expensive, so we should hedge our bets." . The "Energy czar..." article is in regards to a report submitted to the Legislature by the Environmental Comissioner, Gord Miller. He takes issue with the government's ambitious conservation plans falling short. The last news story about falling costs for solar energy by a Queens' University prof claims that the cost of modern solar panels purchased in bulk is under $1 per watt and that when all costs are properly included (including environmental), solar is very close to being competitive with conventional energy sources.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Mayor Todd Cowan has again backed one of his campaign promises with action. He had promised a more visible and transparent CPAC (Chemtura Public Advisory Committee) and one of the many ways of doing this is to publish both their public meeting Agendas and the Minutes of their meetings. These actions should have and could have been done years ago and were not. Similarily the old CPAC had refused to hold evening meetings and Mayor Cowan now has them being held at 6 pm. on the last Thursday of the month in Woolwich Council Chambers. The Minutes and Agendas are published on the Woolwich Township website. The headings are across the top and if you click on COUNCIL it will scroll down and you can see CPAC (Chemtura Public.....) .

Today's Kitchener - Waterloo Record has an Opinion piece by Martin Regg Cohn titled "Provincial plunge into green energy was hasty". This article quotes the recent report by Ontario's Auditor general criticizing a number of financial initiatives by the governing Liberals including their green energy plans and associated costs. What I find interesting however is that the author while starting out criticizing and on the same page as the Auditor General balances his article with some interesting provisos and perspectives that at the least show the other side of the balance sheet, if you will. These green energy plans of course include wind farms (soon coming to a farm near you) as well as solar and Elmira's own proposed Bio Energy plant.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


There were some missteps and scheduling difficulties along the way but this Friday some Elmira citizens, CPAC members and one other will meet with Michael Harris our new M.P.P. and Environment critic. Michael (P.C.) was sucessful in the October Provincial election and defeated Leanna Pendergast (Liberal). Speaking for myself, this meeting is not any kind of political endorsement, simply an information sharing session with Michael Harris who has also been appointed Environment critic by his party. Since the Elmira crisis of 1989, all three major political parties in Ontario have had a kick at the can and in my opinion they've all been unsucessful in varying degrees. Thus I can truly say in that context that I am approaching this meeting from an unbiased standpoint. Yes I am confident that there are and have been environmental discussions with the McGuinty government, past and present, but nevertheless the role of Official Opposition in the legislature is not inconsequential. Obviously a real cleanup at Chemtura will be discussed but other Woolwich environmental issues will arise possibly including Bio-En, Hawk Ridge Homes, gravel pits, Varnicolor etc. .

Speaking of Hawk Ridge Homes, the word is that it will be on the Agenda for Woolwich Council on December 13/11. There may also be a Delegation of concerned citizens speaking about the upcoming Ontario Municipal Board (O.M.B.) hearing.

Monday, December 5, 2011


It's been twenty-two hours since I posted yesterday advising the possibility of my naming the individual and the local company he works for; today. It's been about thirty hours since his last juvenile and rude postings. It's been nearly twenty one hours since he last logged onto this website (without commenting). I have just returned from my second chat with Officer Sig Peters of the Elmira Detachment of the Waterloo Regional Police. For some time now, since Sig arrived in Elmira, I've made it a routine to drop in for a friendly chat on a variety of innocuous subjects. Sig is friendly, personable and very approachable. After I showed hin the hard copy of the latest comments from Friday evening and late Saturday (Sun. am.) he advised that he would contact Officer Shantz who attended at my home on Friday evening. Sig will advise him of the latest batch of comments and confirm that he either has or will speak in person to the individual responsible. This course of action is my preference. I am advised that I have a solid case if I wish to pursue this individual civilly. His claims, allegations of law breaking and promotion of hatred against me by the use of sexual profanity, perversions etc. render him essentially defenceless. As I advised yesterday I believe he is motivated by a sense of loyalty to his kin and employer. That being said I do not wish to name his local employer, especially as I have no reason to believe the employer would condone his behaviour. .................... .....................THAT BEING SAID, MAKE NO MISTAKE ... IF THIS BEHAVIOUR STARTS AGAIN THE INDIVIDUAL AND HIS ELMIRA POLLUTION CONNECTION WILL BE PUBLISHED HERE. Fair comment and strong criticism from many others is published here in the comments section and is welcome. Gibberish whether in English, Spanish or Russian is not. Neither is profanity or comments totally irrelevant to the postings or irrelevant to environmental subjects welcome. Thank you to all mature readers and commenters.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


This is an extraordinary Sunday posting. Twenty years ago plus outspoken individuals in this community had their homes egged when they publicly criticized Uniroyal Chemical. Those anonymous heroes (egg throwers) have been replaced by a new generation of anonymous heroes who do their egg throwing on-line. Hence here in the Advocate for the last three weeks one particular individual has been swearing, cursing, writing gibberish and making asinine allegations of illegal activity towards yours truly.

The circumstantial evidence identifying him is more than overwhelming. It includes multiple witnesses to his verbal ranting about me, while drinking, less than an hour before the latest outbreak of his childish behaviour. It includes an answering machine recording of him physically threatening me last summer. And much more. This individual works for a company here in Elmira, located on a contaminated site. No it's not Chemtura. The timing of recent articles in our local papers about other sources to our contaminated drinking aquifer is not coincidental. The sad part is that this individual probably believes that he is demonstrating loyalty to his relative and employer. What he is actually doing is digging himself deeper and deeper into a serious mess and I at this point in time have no reason to believe that his employer is involved. That being said I have very recently had a conversation with his employer and relative. I have also talked now with two different Regional Police Officers on two different occasions. Civilly this individual is miles over the line; criminally he is teetering on the edge in regards to his on-line postings. The answering machine recording hasn't gone to the Police yet but he identified himself and then threatened me. Tomorrow I will be going back to the Regional Police and I will again attempt to contact his relative and employer.

If after doing the above I see any possibility that his harassing and possibly illegal behaviour will stop, then that will be the end of it. On the other hand if I get nowhere with the Police or his relative/employer then I will post here tomorrow and identify him and the company he is working for. By identifying the company it will make obvious the reasons for his juvenile behaviour. Mere insults and profanity are of less concern than his false allegations of law breaking on my part. Once his identity and affiliation are publicly exposed, I'm much less concerned that his falsehoods will be believed by any unbiased, reasonable person. I emphasize that I have no evidence or even belief that his current employer is involved in his bad behaviour.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


This week's Elmira Independent has a story titled " GRCA seeks input on water management plan" written by Chuck Kuepfer. They are looking for this input in three areas namely water supply, water quality and flood protection. Apparently the current water management plan was created in 1982 and clearly is ready for an update. Interestingly I believe that it was in that plan that I saw one of the only references to Borg Textiles' (Elmira) toxic effluents that I've ever seen. If indeed it was in this report, it claimed that Borg was considered responsible for knocking out the bacteria in the Elmira Sewage Treatment Plant. Apparently this input is to be obtained by an on-line survey at . The disappointing aspect, unless it's a typo is that the survey ends on Dec. 2/11. Yikes that's yesterday! I haven't checked out the GRCA website yet but will shortly to confirm or deny this date . This article in the Dec. 1/11 Independent is the first I've heard of this survey and if it does end on Dec.2, you can see why I added (I think?) to the title above.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Once more I admit to taking a little bit of literary license with the above title. That is merely a very minor shot at some criticism in the comments section. Seems on one hand I'm a s#$% disturber fighting with the authorities on one day and allegedly I'm sucking up to them the next. Frivolous criticism is to be expected from those who don't have the facts on their side or who even don't know what the facts are.

The above being said is NOT a reference to the OPINION page in today's Woolwich Observer. On the right side of this page (10) under VERBATIM is the following quote of mine : "Despite the past and current model of public consultation being inherently a poor one, this CPAC is suceeding. They are honest, open-minded and independent. This sucess is due to the individuals on CPAC and because of individuals on our municipal council." Following my quote are the following comments presumably from the Editor of the Observer: "Usually a vocal critic of the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee, resident Alan Marshall had nothing but praise for the new committee at Tuesday's council meeting." Thank You I believe Steve Kannon of the Observer. You are on the money.

Going back to the front page article in yesterday's Elmira Independent "Ministry to add monitoring wells on Varnicolor site", let me add the following. Two years ago I attended a private meeting of the old Woolwich Council along with Eric Hodgins of the Region of Waterloo. Eric is a hydrogeologist by trade and in my opinion, borrowing a wonderful barb from Dr. Henry Regier, a "designated denier" for the Region of Waterloo. Eric is a paid employee and a decent individual who however for his own well being carefully looks out for the interests of the Region of Waterloo. Eric categorically stated that Varnicolor Chemical was a dead issue, did not contribute to the contamination of the Elmira Aquifer and no he hadn't gotten around to reading the technical references I had provided him about Chlorobenzene (DNAPL) 100 feet below surface behind (west) Varnicolor. Therefore for me the $64,000 question is why is it in the interests of Waterloo Region to continue covering up? What is in the Independent and what was provided at the November 24/11 CPAC meeting, including further excavation of 200 Tonnes of SHALLOW contaminated soil, twenty years LATER, is only the tip of the iceberg. M.O.E., Chemtura & Region of got some explaining to do!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Today's Independent carrys the following front page story and headline: "Ministry to add monitoring wells on Varnicolor site". My goodness I've died and gone to heaven and been brought back to earth twenty-one years ago. I will probably be giving more details in tomorrow's posting but let me just say that this is a great article with lots of quotes and most of them critical of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. While I do not revel in the probable difficulties facing the latest owners I would be less than honest if I didn't admit joy that this site may well be the key to a wholesale housecleaning at the M.O.E. Jane Glassco (M.O.E.) suggested that many of the Staff involved with this file have retired. My advice to remaining staff who covered up facts twenty years ago, is think seriously and quickly about early retirement. One point that got missed in this excellent article was the proposed removal of an additional 200 Tonnes of contaminated soil.

O.K. this isn't going to be a perfect apples to apples comparison. Life is seldom so clear and easy, but it is worth comparing. The Kitchener-Waterloo Record had a story on November 25/11 titled "Guelph residents point finger at new waste plant". Then the following day they published "City of Guelph told to address odour from composting plant". This new plant is referred to as an "organics composting plant". It isn't referred to as a biogenerating plant although the raw materials seem awfully similar. The major comparisons would be "...officials offerred assurances last year that the new facility would be odour-free.". A further quote is "We are confident this facility is able to operate odour-free". This to me is a typical example of why citizens have lost confidence in both their elected officials and in the Ministry of the Environment. How many years can you bafflegab and bullcrap citizens without them catching on? This is a perfect example above and beyond traffic concerns as to why local Elmira residents have legitimate concerns around our proposed biogas facility to be put near a residential subdivision.