The mayors of the United Counties of Prescott and Russell have voted in favor of an official plan amendment requested by Colacem Canada, reported The Review. The company plans to build a cement plant on Highway 17 outside L’Orignal, Ontario, and needed the amendment to move forward.

The council initially voted the same way in late 2016, but had to hold another vote and public meeting because of a procedural mistake. Mayors Gary Barton (Champlain Township), Jeanne Charlebois (Hawkesbury) and Robert Kirby (East Hawkesbury) voted against the requested change, and the other five members of the council voted in favor. Because recorded votes at the United Counties are weighted based on population, Colacem’s requested amendment was approved 19-7.

After the June 14 meeting, Mayor Fernand Dicaire of Alfred-Plantagenet said he voted in favor of the amendment because he is satisfied Colacem will meet provincial regulations.

“Colacem is engaging itself in meeting the criteria set by the province of Ontario,” he said. “How can we say that they’re not going to meet these guidelines? I couldn’t see an argument that said they are not going to be meeting these targets.” He added that “exponential” progress has been made lately in controlling pollution, and “all we’re saying is it’s good practice to have industrial in that area.”

The issue isn’t over yet, said Barton. “Colacem is already appealing our township decision. We’re going down the road, that’s the way I look at it, and from day one I said that’s where we’re going to be anyway. In the end, probably the Ontario Municipal Board is making the decision, not us.”

A pre-hearing is set for September for Colacem’s appeal of the Champlain Township’s decision not to approve a zoning change required for the plant to go ahead.

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