Hamilton seeks zoning control over controversial waste facilities in port lands


Staff member
Feb 15, 2004
The Beach Strip
Posted with permission from the Hamilton Spectator

Updated zoning rules would give city more control over projects like the infamous trash-to-gas plant once pitched for the end of Sherman Avenue North

April 4th, 2018
by Matthew Van Dongen
Hamilton Spectator
The city is changing "1950s-era" port zoning rules to try to exert control over contentious waste-processing plants and other polluting industries near residential neighbourhoods.

The city's planning committee is slated to consider official plan and zoning changes related to port lands along the industrial harbour Tuesday. One proposal is a requirement for neighbourhood impact studies before the city grants approval for any new waste processing or transfer facility.

The city has mulled such a change since 2015, when residents were enraged to learn broadly permissive, decades-old industrial zoning allowed for a controversial plant near the end of Sherman Avenue North that would convert 170,000 tonnes a year of industrial trash into gas. The proposed facility would also have sought to recover metal from thousands of tonnes of steel and mine tailings.

"That's an obvious example of why changes are needed, but not the only one," said Ward 5 Coun. Chad Colins, one of several councillors who opposed the project over air quality concerns.

The gasification project was later abandoned in the face of a provincially required environmental assessment.

But Collins argued the episode underlines how "powerless" council is to influence the evolution of its industrial waterfront without modernizing "vintage 1950s-era" zoning rules.

The city has been updating its zoning bylaws in phases since it passed a new official plan in 2013.

But there is only so much the city can do to control port development via zoning because the federally regulated Hamilton Port Authority has jurisdiction over businesses related to port shipping or navigation.

The Spectator could not reach a port authority spokesperson Monday, but the city has been told the agency would like more time to review the latest proposed zoning changes.

The planning report (Attached below) says the city does not consider waste transfer or processing facilities to be "directly related" to port operation. It says the proposed zoning amendments "respect" the separate federal jurisdiction of the port authority.

Collins said he is hoping the zoning changes "control or constrain" a number of different heavy industrial operations near residential enclaves, pointing in particular to past problems with salt blowing off massive harbour piles toward the beach strip.

Scott Howley figures the fate of his corroding eavestroughs depend on a change in pollution control policy. The Beach strip resident and member of the local community council said he has pulled literal "chunks" of road salt out of his roof-height eavestroughs after past bad wind storms. "I'd love to hear there was a way to stop that (blowing salt), but I'm not holding my breath," he said.

Howley, who has previously toured Eastport industrial salt piles with port and city officials to talk about the problem, said he wasn't aware a zoning change was pending for the industrial port.

Neither was Environment Hamilton head Lynda Lukasik, who joined a citizen stakeholder committee a year ago in the hopes of weighing in on the city's evolving industrial bayfront strategy. Lukasik said both incinerators and salt pile pollution remain on the radar as port concerns for the group.

"I'm glad to hear they're talking about it, but hopefully (residents) will hear more before any decisions are made," she said.

The amended zoning rules in some port areas include "stockpile" setbacks from residential zones as well as roofed enclosures with "at least three walls" or the use of tarps to keep loose material from blowing away.

But Collins, who is councillor for the Beach community, said he will propose language to force future Eastport Drive port industries ¡X existing businesses would likely be grandfathered ¡X to keep windblown materials like salt or sand completely indoors.

"Obviously, there would be a cost to that," the councillor said. "But there is already an environmental and health cost to the way we do business now."


905-526-3241 | [MENTION=650]matt[/MENTION]atthespec


905-526-3241 | [MENTION=650]matt[/MENTION]atthespec


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