Skip to content

Oshawa calls on Trudeau to reject ethanol refinery on Lake Ontario waterfront

Mark Calzavara in Oshawa

Oshawa city council is calling on the Trudeau government to reject a controversial ethanol refinery that could be constructed near Lake Ontario and a provincially significant coastal wetland.

Oshawa This Week reports, “Oshawa councillors have unanimously reaffirmed their opposition to an ethanol plant proposed for the city’s port lands and are passing that message on to the new federal government. …When asked about the issue during a 2012 visit to Oshawa, Justin Trudeau responded that he was mostly concerned with the process. He said the plant doesn’t just warrant legal approval, but it needs social approval also. He also met with Mayor [John] Henry at the time. Mayor Henry will write a letter to the new federal government restating the City’s position.”

The article adds, “Gary Valcour, chairman of the Oshawa Port Authority board, said there is no update on the ethanol issue. ‘The Port’s position hasn’t changed from the time we began this process which is we’ve gone through the various stages of the process, the environmental assessment and we’re waiting for FarmTech to decide what it wants to do’, he said referring to the company that proposed the project. With respect to the port itself, he said he doesn’t expect there to be much change with the new federal government if the government continues to treat ports as arms-length independent organizations.”

The controversial $200 million, 12-storey ethanol refinery could be constructed on Lake Ontario waterfront next to a ‘provincially significant’ 123-hectare coastal wetland. While the refinery is opposed by Oshawa city council, it has been approved by the Oshawa Port Authority. Five of the seven members of the Port Authority were appointed by the Harper government, including Valcour, the former president of the Conservative riding association in then federal finance minister Jim Flaherty’s riding of Oshawa-Whitby. That Conservative riding association also included Tim O’Connor – a director of FarmTech Energy Corporation and the brother of the company’s president Dan O’Connor.

The Council of Canadians has been opposing this proposed ethanol refinery for the past four years.

In July 2011, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow wrote, “Several aspects of the proposed ethanol plant contradict the notion of the Great Lakes Commons including the importance of public participation and a program for wetlands protection. …I urge the federal government to withdraw any consent and withhold any further consideration to establish an ethanol plant on Crown land at the Oshawa Harbour until the concerns of the community are adequately considered.” In September 2012, Council of Canadians Ontario-Quebec organizer Mark Calzavara attended an open house in Oshawa to lend support to the opposition to the ethanol refinery. In November 2012, Calzavara travelled again to Oshawa to speak at a meeting organized by the Friends of Oshawa’s Waterfront, a local group fighting the ethanol refinery. And in October 2013, Barlow spoke at a public forum in Oshawa opposed to the ethanol refinery.

Photo: Calzavara speaks against the ethanol refinery, Nov. 2012.