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Dresden dump expansion won't go ahead without tackling concerns, environment minister says

Queen's Park is shown in a file photo. Ontario's environment minister says a full environmental assessment will be done on the Dresden project. (David Donnelly/CBC - image credit)
Queen's Park is shown in a file photo. Ontario's environment minister says a full environmental assessment will be done on the Dresden project. (David Donnelly/CBC - image credit)

Ontario's environment minister says that a controversial proposal to expand a dormant landfill in Dresden, Ont., will face a "comprehensive environmental assessment."

The announcement comes after significant community opposition to the plan. The landfill, located just over a kilometre from the edge of the southwestern Ontario community, could receive 6,000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste each day.

Environment Minister Andrea Khanjin said Friday the assessment would "require this site to address local community concerns and mitigate potential impacts before it could open."

"This site was established over 40 years ago, prior to Ontario's requirement that landfills undergo an environmental assessment," she said in a statement.

"In keeping with the process that any other landfill would be required to undergo today, I will be taking steps to require this project to complete a comprehensive environmental assessment under the Environmental Assessment Act."

Before Dresden became part of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent in 1998, incinerator ash was deposited on the site.

Because of that, the site needs no rezoning from the municipality, and approval is in the hands of the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

LISTEN: Dresden residents speak out against landfill proposal

Community members have banded together in the hopes of fighting the plan.

"When we first saw their proposal, our concern was that we are an agricultural community and that these sorts of projects have unintended chemical waste," said Stefan Premdas, a member of Dresden C.A.R.E.D (Citizens Against Reckless Environmental Disposal), told CBC earlier this week.

"As we started looking at their proposal, we realized the species at risk and the endangered animals that live within our Carolinian forest would also be endangered."

CBC has reached out to the group for a response to the minister's statement.

A Greater Toronto Area company, York 1, owns the property. It has submitted two applications to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks for this issue, and wants to expand the site to cover a total of 25 hectares.

The company previously told CBC it was in the early stages of the provincial process to amend the existing permits for the site, which it called a "regenerative recycling facility."

Multiple studies including traffic control and species-at-risk-are being conducted, according to the company.