EVICTION NOTICE: Tank shed must be moved, says Transport Canada

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By Adam Brazeau

CORNWALL, Ontario - A portable shed used by community activists as a headquarters to protest chemical tanks under construction is getting evicted.

But protesters who built the shed have a message of their own: no way.

City council candidate Mark MacDonald was handed a Transport Canada letter by Cornwall police at a press conference Thursday, which mandates the removal of the shed by Friday.

"All of a sudden now we have 24 hours to move it...which is just ridiculous," said MacDonald, who added the shed is going nowhere. "This will definitely not be moving within the timeline set out by Transport Canada."

Roughly 10 people gathered at noon hour to officially open the shelter to the public with a ribbon-cutting by Cornwall resident Glen Whitford, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

MacDonald said Whitford was the ideal candidate to launch the opening of the small group's protest headquarters since he too was dealing with a government issue, which offered few answers and little resolve.

Whitford considered the waterfront tanks a fiasco that will ultimately waste taxpayer dollars.

"The government says they have no money…and they don't want to help their own people. What's wrong with the system?" said Whitford.

Whitford said his current living conditions through Cornwall Housing are not fully equipped to accommodate his wheelchair.

"There should be more houses and a better setup for everyone like myself."

The portable shed was erected on Monday by MacDonald and volunteers.

Work continues at the site despite a stop-work order issued by the city.

Chuck Charlebois, founder of Groupe Renaissance Group, spoke to the small crowd of activists and local media about his frustrations over the lack of communication from the federal government and Trillium Distribution (the company leasing the property) with local residents.

"What we're trying to do is get attention to this problem and nobody is listening," said Charlebois. "You can't have everybody against a project and you continue construction as we speak and as we're negotiating - that's against all principles of negotiation."

Charlebois felt strongly that the public outcry over the waterfront tanks from local residents and multiple agencies including Renaissance Group, Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, and Le Village Business Improvement Area have been ignored by the key players involved.

"We need these people to say there was a mistake made in Cornwall and we're going to own up to the mistake and we're going to respect the will of the citizens of Cornwall," he said.

Three other Cornwall council candidates were in attendance: Guy St-Jean, Geoff Stephenson, and Brock Frost.

St-Jean lives in the Cotton Mills condo building near the pair of waterfront storage tanks.

"On behalf of the Cotton Mills residents, it's very disturbing what's happening," said St- Jean. "It's a huge slap in the face to have to go through this whole process. I'm here to support Chuck Charlebois' vision of Cornwall's waterfront."

At 4 p.m., MacDonald responded to an e-mail from acting Inspector Shawna Spowart of the Cornwall police, which had Transport Canada's ultimatum letter attached.

"My response to the Transport Canada notice is, I don't intend on moving anything anywhere until the public gets a straight answer," he said. "Also, I have locked the protest HQ and there are no further demonstrations planned."

Organizations: Transport Canada

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