The City of Oshawa is fighting the fereral government's choice of the Oshawa Harbour as the site for a new ethanol refinery .
Credits: STAN BEHAL/QMI AGENCY
TORONTO -- The mayor of Oshawa, ON, has called on the federal and provincial governments to halt a controversial ethanol plant after port officials approved the $200 million project Thursday.
Following FarmTech Energy's announcement, Toronto MP Olivia Chow -- the NDP transportation critic -- accused the federal government of stacking the new Oshawa Port Authority (OPA) with "Conservative insiders in cahoots with the ethanol plant company."
The federal agency "blindsided" the city, Mayor John Henry fumed.
"There was no consultation," he said, citing a "terrible relationship" with the OPA.
"We don't want corn in our harbour," Henry said of the Ajax, ON, firm's 12-hectare future plant.
Henry said residents fear pollution, noise and heavy truck traffic as workers stock four grain and corn silos for the daily production of ethanol fuel.
Oshawa's council also won Durham Region's support for a Brock Township site, he said.
"It's not good business sense to locate a business where it is not wanted," Henry said.
FarmTech president Dan O'Connor predicted 300 construction jobs, 50 full-time jobs and new investment opportunities.
Construction was postponed for harbour officials to reconsider city, environmental, business, community and political issues, he said. Since the plant was proposed six years ago, "we've met roadblock after roadblock.
"We anticipate breaking ground this fall," O'Connor said, predicting a 2014 completion.
He said ethanol plus leftover "distiller grains" sold as animal feed will be shipped by boat.
Producing 210 million litres annually, FarmTech will supply mostly Toronto-area customers and help meet federal and provincial mandates for 5% ethanol in gasoline.
Oshawa grain and corn farmer Dale Montjoy, who owns 1,500 acres, said the struggling agriculture community "is having a hard time understanding the resistance ... to produce a clean-energy product."
Port authority chairman Gary Valcour said members delayed voting to review objections and portland regulations.
He said Henry "was one of the very first people called" with the decision -- by a city representative at Thursday's meeting.
Valcour said many anti-plant petitioners "are not even residents."
He added the plant will be located in an industrial area that includes asphalt and sewage treatment operations.
With $90 million projected annually for the local economy, port officials are "looking at what's best for the city and the region ... unlike the mayor and city council talking about stuff they don't actually know," Valcour said.