CORNWALL, Ontario – Councillors got an earful from critics of a chemical tank construction project on Cornwall’s waterfront, as dozens jammed city hall to urge an end to the controversial plan.
Groupe Renaissance Group president Chuck Charlebois told councillors there has been wholesale opposition to the project, which has slowed to a crawl in the weeks since the public became aware of the construction.
“This is a total catastrophe. A total breakdown in communication,” Charlebois said before a standing room-only gallery at city hall. “Regardless of who made the mistake, it’s not the best land use for the city of Cornwall and (Akwesasne).”
Charlebois will join with officials from the city, federal government, Akwesasne, and Trillium Distribution (the company building the tanks) Tuesday to discuss the future of the project at a meeting in Ottawa.
If elected officials didn’t know how residents felt about the project before Monday night, they certainly do now.
“People that have spent millions of dollars on the waterfront, and that are planning to spend millions more…say no,” said Charlebois. “The area residents say no. But guess what? I’m getting calls from Ottawa and Lancaster. They’re laughing. They want to know what’s going on down there. They say no.”
There was unanimous agreement among city councillors that the project should be permanently stopped.
“This makes no sense at all, with all the investments the city and private sector have put into our waterfront over the years,” said Coun. Andre Rivette. “These tanks have to go.”
That sentiment was echoed by others around the council table.
“Cornwall today can’t be pushed around like it could in the past,” said Coun. Denis Carr. “Come and get the tanks and take them out, because we don’t want them on our waterfront.”
Coun. Bernadette Clement urged Mayor Bob Kilger to send a clear message to all parties at Tuesday’s meeting that Cornwall wants no part of the tanks.
“When you Google 'Cornwall waterfront' the first thing that comes up is the city website,” she said. “So it’s no secret the city has a vision for its waterfront.
“We’ve got to make sure these tanks are not a roadblock to a better future for our waterfront.”