CORNWALL, Ontario - A city councillor said municipal officials were kept totally in the dark on a plan to build two new storage tanks on Cornwall's waterfront.
"We were not told anything," said a frustrated David Murphy, who added neither were administrators. "Permits are not required because it is federal land and they can do whatever they want with it.
"We were just as surprised and disappointed as everyone else."
MP Guy Lauzon said he has put in an inquiry to Transport Canada for details, but added if an agreement has been signed in good faith with a private firm, he's not sure what, if anything, can be done to stop the project from moving forward.
"If they have a legal agreement, how can you stop this?" Lauzon said, adding he found out about the project when media reports began to circulate Thursday.
Seaway News broke the story of the new tanks and criticism has quickly spread.
A source has told Seaway News the company that signed the lease agreement with Transport Canada is Trillium Distribution, a firm that specializes in road safety measures like the appilcation of calcium chloride.
Seaway News attempted to contact management at the company who only offered: "We've been following the media reports in Cornwall and we have no comment" before hanging up the phone.
Lauzon has been in touch with municipal officials and hopes work can be undertaken to "mitigate" any issues if the tanks are "unsightly."
The tanks are expected to be largely underground, but will still be visible from the road.
Social media sites lit up when word got out about the tanks - and residents are not happy.
Many are taking aim at the federal government for signing a lease with a private firm that is in the midst of leasing the property adjacent to the Cornwall Harbour and building two tanks that will be recessed into the ground and contain calcium chloride.
Transport Canada owns the property, but signed a lease agreement this fall with a private firm. Seaway News has been told the lease could stretch as long as 10 years, though government officials have not confirmed this.
There was no public consultation before construction began.
"We have to stand up and demand an explanation regarding these tanks that are being installed at our waterfront," Cornwall resident Karen Torrie-Racine posted on her Facebook page.
The sentiment was similar among other local residents.
"Asking all my Facebook friends in Cornwall and region to get the word out about the terrible plan for storage tanks on our waterfront," businessman Roy Perkins chimed in. "Not good.
"We need to get organized so we have some input on this issue.....the future of our city's and region growth is at stake."
Mayor Bob Kilger has already indicated his preference that a calcium chloride storage facility not be built on what was once an oil tank farm.
The city, though, has been left on the sideline since it does not own the property.
Chuck Charlebois, president of Groupe Renaissance Group, has emailed several contacts in Cornwall looking to rally support against the continued construction of the tanks.
"Transport Canada apparently takes the position that they need to generate money. Sounds good, however, could they have sold the property instead?" Charlebois said in his email.
It's expected that the calcium chloride will be delivered by ship, and then trucks will transport the material from the storage tanks.