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Port: Ethanol arbitration will take months

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Councillors are getting anxious to see a resolution at the waterfront. However, according to the Oshawa Port Authority, any answers regarding the ethanol plant are still months away.

Danna O’Brien, a spokesperson for the Oshawa Port Authority (OPA), says there is still uncertainty regarding the finalization of the arbitration between the port and Farmtech, the company approved in 2012 to construct an ethanol plant on Oshawa’s waterfront.

“No timeline has been provided, although it is anticipated to be over the next few months,” O’Brien said in an emailed statement.

The issue came to a head this past summer when councillors, Mayor John Henry and residents attended the OPA’s annual general meeting in the hope of getting answers on when the issue would be resolved.

Now, councillors are once again trying to figure out how to expedite the process in order to clear the way for any development.

“It’s important that we try every avenue that we can to get this arbitration case finished,” said Councillor Nester Pidwerbecki at the most recent meeting of the development services committee, noting that the city should apply as much “pressure on this as we possibly can.”

However, the issue raised concerns for Councillor Bob Chapman, who says the issue is really out of the city’s hands.

“I think we just have to wait,” he said.

“It would be great to have it tomorrow…but there’s nothing we can do, but it almost goes into the realm of interfering with judicial process.”

It would seem councillors are not the only ones in the dark as Paul Ralph, the city’s commissioner of development services, says staff have also not heard anything new from the port.

According to Henry, a letter sent to the port this past summer to request a meeting was turned down, and last week, a second letter was sent with the same request.

The ethanol plant was approved in August 2012, but no movement has been made toward construction. Whether the arbitration has been impeding that development for that amount of time has not been confirmed.