Chuck Charlebois, president of Groupe Renaissance Group, speaks with a supporter at a protest Monday afternoon.
CORNWALL, Ontario - Transport Canada said Thursday city officials were advised of the tank project taking place on Cornwall's waterfront earlier this year.
Pamela Mintern, a spokesperson for the federal agency, said in an email to Seaway News officials from Trillium Distribution, which leased the property on Harbour Road to build a pair of calcium chloride tanks, advised the city in June about the details of the work.
"The tenant provided detailed information regarding proposed activities for this commercial operation at this port facility to the City of Cornwall," reads her email. "Specifically, Trillium Distribution Cornwall Inc. advised Transport Canada that they first contacted the City of Cornwall in February 2013, and that, among other discussions with the City, Trillium Distribution Cornwall Inc. also provided details of the project plan to the City of Cornwall in June 2013."
City officials have maintained to this point that they were unaware of the project details until only recently.
CAO Norm Levac said the city stands by its public comments, and suggested the city was not provided details about what would happen, despite asking questions.
"We want to discuss this with Transport Canada," said Levac. "And we stand by what we said publicly.
"We really need to open a dialogue with Transport Canada."
In the meantime, a frustrated Chuck Charlebois said Thursday the chemical tanks under construction on the city's waterfront could be finished before the federal government responds to a request to stop the project.
Charlebois, president of Groupe Renaissance Group, told Seaway News he has learned Transport Canada Minister Lisa Raitt is not expected to address the issue until perhaps the new year.
"It's kind of a slap in the face, after all the talk we heard Wednesday night," Charlebois said, referring to an open forum convened Wednesday night at the Cornwall Civic Complex where residents resoundingly deplored the project. "I think it was very clear that there was a request for a stop-work order.
"This is a perfect example of why this work should be shut down, because there has been a total breakdown in communication," said Charlebois. "It doesn't make any sense."
Trillium Distribution has leased the land on Harbour Road in Cornwall from Transport Canada and is building a pair of calcium chloride tanks.
Mintern's email also suggested Transport Canada is aware of city hall's bylaw prohibiting work at the site.
"The Government of Canada respects the city’s authority to pass by-laws within its jurisdiction," read her email.
More to come.