© Adam Brazeau
Doug Smith, Minister Lisa Raitt's chief of staff, speaks to a lively crowd during a public forum on controversial storage tanks by the city's waterfront.
CORNWALL, Ontario - The Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce wants to know why, and even if, powers enjoyed by the federal government can be transferred to a company leasing property on the city's waterfront where chemical tanks are being constructed.
The chamber and other agencies like the Cornwall Waterfront Committee, Groupe Renaissance Group, and Le Village BIA, have sent a letter to Transport Minister Lisa Raitt on the matter and are awaiting a response.
"The chamber understands that government ministries and agencies are exempt from carrying out environmental assessments and acquiring municipal approvals on matters of building permits, site plans, zoning compliance, etc.," said chamber president Kevin Hargreaves. "That said, the chamber and its partners are of the view that such concessions may not apply to a third party lessee or, that the concessions can be transferred to that lessee."
Mayor Bob Kilger recently said at a council meeting at city hall that the municipality has made similar inqueries, only to find out there's little that can be done to reverse the calcium chloride tank project on the waterfront.
"We are respectfully requesting the minister clarify exemptions with respect to third-party lease agreements," said Hargreaves.
The Ministry of Transport entered into a lease agreement with Trillium Distributing this fall to develop the land on Harbour Road.
While there is some question as to whether the municipality was given prior notice of the project, various regulatory bodies were not, despite the fact that the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement through the International Joint Commission had declared the St. Lawrence River (Cornwall) to be an Area of Concern and a vulnerable area with respect to industrialization.
After Seaway News broke the story the chamber spearheaded a public protest and hosted a public forum to draw attention to the issue.