South Dundas grain terminal permit upheld

In this May 5, 2015, file photo, the UTI property on Lakeshore Drive in South Dundas sits vacant awaiting a grain terminal project. A Cornwall judge has ruled the building permit for the storage bins on the north side of Lakeshore Drive was valid. (Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL – A judge has upheld a building permit issued by the South Dundas Chief Building Official for a grain storage facility on Lakeshore Drive.

In his 29 page ruling, Judge Ronald Laliberte said the permit for a ten acre piece of land on the north side of County Road 4, across from the UTI deep water port, was valid.

The building permit was issued on January 30, 2015 by Chief Building Official Don Lewis to Morrisburg Dock Expansion Inc. to build two, 20,000 metric ton bins or silos for grain.

South Dundas residents Charles Crober and Christopher Rowntree had wanted the court to rule the permit invalid, arguing it didn’t meet the zoning and land use requirements.

In his ruling, Judge Laliberte said the applicants had not proven on a balance of probabilities that the municipality had contravened the Environmental Protection Act, Ministry of Environment guidelines or provincial policy statements.

Laliberte also noted that, while there had been evidence alluding to adverse effects, such as noise and vibrations from trucks as well as air pollution from grain dust, “the evidentiary record does not provide much insight on the effects of this project on the environment.”

The judge also believed Crober and Rowntree had not proven a building permit could not be issued prior to Environmental Compliance Approval by the Ministry of Environment (MOECC).

Even if the environment approval had been needed, Laliberte noted that the MOECC was not opposed to the project prior to the permit being issued.

“There is simply no connection between the issuance of the building permit and the MOECC,” Laliberte wrote. “There is no logical or rational reason why the building permit should not have been issued in this matter prior to the Environmental Compliance.”

The judge also ruled the applicants did not meet the onus of proof that the proposed grain storage bins violated building code requirements.

The court found Chief Building Official Don Lewis’ decision was “reasonable” and his explanation for issuing the permit was “intelligible.”

“At a minimum, his (Don Lewis’) decision falls within a range of possible, acceptable outcomes which are defenceable both factually and legally.”

The court also found Lewis’ decision was supported by the “compelling evidence of two independent expert witnesses” – expert planners had analyzed the case for the municipality and the grain terminal company and had submitted affidavits to the court.

Both sides have been ordered to set a date to discuss a couple of outstanding issues including court costs associated with the proceedings.

While the project has cleared this legal hurdle, the Ministry of Environment turned down the Environmental Compliance Approval application in December.

The company, NorAg Resources Inc., had planned to submit another application before the end of the month (January 2016).