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Ethanol inquiries met with silence

Mayor John Henry takes the issue to Ottawa

harbourBy Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

It it a go? On hold? Cancelled?

It’s been almost four years since the Oshawa Port Authority gave the go ahead to FarmTech Energy to build an ethanol facility on the city’s waterfront in August 2012. However, no such facility has come to fruition.

Despite repeated attempts and Freedom of Information requests to gain further information on the subject, each of the inquires made by The Oshawa Express to FarmTech have been met with silence.

Comment requests to the Port Authority are repeatedly referred to FarmTech. No further details are provided.

Apparently, those at the City of Oshawa are in the same situation.

“They’re very silent on the issue and we don’t get much information and that’s sad,” says Mayor John Henry. “It’s not good and it’s not transparent.”

With plans to revitalize Oshawa’s harbour lands now in the works, including the request for proposals being finalized to gauge interest in reestablishing a public marina, the possibility of an ethanol plant being built is once again rearing it’s head.

“Nothing will happen in that area as long as the threat of an ethanol plant still exists,” Henry says.

Since the idea first came about, there has been public dissent, with the city being one of the facility’s constant opponents. In 2011, the city produced a petition with more than 3,300 signatures of those opposed to the project and even pointed to Brock Township, which said it would be willing to house the plant.

“You don’t build refineries in residential areas,” Henry says.

Henry was in Ottawa recently for a meeting with Marc Garneau, the federal transportation minister, and true to his word in a recent committee meeting, Henry broached the topic of the ethanol plant with him, looking for support to put an end to the issue for good.

Henry says the two also discussed the expansion of GO Transit, and a possible federal surcharge on natural resources as recently discussed at the Region of Durham.

Henry says he also extended an invitation for Garneau to visit the city, and will be providing further information on the ethanol project to the minister.

“I think we had an excellent meeting,” Henry says.

The Oshawa Express has also approached the province for further information on the state of the ethanol project. A spokesperson with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change said a response would be forthcoming; however a response was not received before press deadline.