Site for proposed waste-to-energy gasification plant

The proposed gasification plant would be on a site of leased land on Pier 15 on the Hamilton waterfront. (Courtesy of Port Fuels and Materials Services Inc.)

The city has two months longer to comment on a controversial gasification plant planned for Hamilton’s waterfront, but the public doesn’t have the same courtesy.

Now city council is asking to change that.

Council voted on Wednesday to ask Port Fuels Materials Services and the Ministry of Environment (MOE) to extend the commenting period for the public too. Originally, the deadline for city and public comment was Friday. Now it’s April 28 – but only for the city.

Coun. Matthew Green of Ward 3 prompted council to ask Port Fuels and MOE to extend the deadline for the public too.

“I would love to see an extended opportunity, for all the same reasons we had, for residents to be involved in this conversation,” said Green, who moved the motion on Wednesday. He's also working on a motion to oppose the plant at an upcoming board of health meeting.

The community has been vocal so far in the Port Fuels project, which would see an energy-from-waste plant on Pier 15. The plant would convert some 200,000 tonnes of imported waste per year.

The group Trash the Garbage Plant has held protests against the plant, and Green says many of his residents are concerned. Another group in the Keith neighbourhood called the Keith Community Hub has come out in favour of it.

The city needs the extended deadline to get a report back from WSP Consultants, an independent consulting firm it’s hired. The firm has already warned that the Gasplasma technology used by the plant is untested on the scale proposed in Hamilton.

The city can ask the MOE for an independent environmental assessment, known as a “bump up.” The new deadline to ask for a bump up is April 28 now too — enough time, the city hopes, to get the consultant’s report, which will address the need for a bump up.

The Hamilton Port Authority would approve the Port Fuels lease. The city’s only real chance to vote against the project would be to vote against a site plan or zoning amendment.

As of this week, Port Fuels still hasn’t acknowledged that it needs to comply with city planning rules, said Steve Robichaud, the city’s director of planning.

Coun. Chad Collins has predicted that this disagreement will end in a legal standoff.