It’s an extremely long way from the original target of March, 2014, and still a considerable distance from a revised target of fall, 2014. But perhaps it’s closer to the truth.
“We can appreciate that hundreds of job applicants have been kept waiting. Just know that we remain committed to creating 340 jobs in this community,” declared Green Arc Tire CEO Mike DiCenzo, in a brief, blunt address at the beginning of Monday’s extremely well-attended Pyramid Centre public meeting.
Almost a year ago, DiCenzo stood at a podium in Toronto, with Town of St. Marys officials seated behind him, and gave those initial projections. At Monday’s meeting, it was left mainly to Peter Klaassen, a Guelph-based senior consultant with RWDI Consulting Engineers and Scientists, to address what now appears to be a much more realistic production timeline.
“We don’t know when it’s going to open as a result of the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) application,” Klaassen told the audience. “Probably three years from now, we’re looking at potentially 340 jobs at this plant.”
That’s assuming, of course, that Green Arc eventually receives its Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) from the MOE — which was, ostensibly, what Monday’s public meeting was all about. The public was invited, through the submission of written questions to a panel that included DiCenzo, Klaassen and an RWDI colleague, as well as local resident Rob Wrigley representing the MOE’s London district, to inquire about the potential environmental effects of the company’s plan.
Many questions of an environmental ilk were addressed, with Wrigley impressing most when he set out the ways in which the community can remain involved even after — as it seemed clear would happen, judging from the explanations offered by the RWDI consultants — Green Arc eventually proves all emissions and noise will be within MOE limits, and the company receives its ECA.
“The community has a role,” Wrigley stressed, adding MOE staff can’t be everywhere at once. “You can contact the Spills Action Centre to let us know about anything that has taken place.”
And, while Green Arc will be required to contract with an independent consultant for monitoring of environmental factors, the MOE also has access to mobile monitoring equipment and will bring it in if warranted by a public complaint.
But in a somewhat surprising way, Monday’s meeting — given that it had the potential to be highly scripted due to the appointment of DiCenzo’s Ontario Safety League supporter, Brian Patterson, as moderator — was also allowed to stray from its environmental focus. Patterson, for example, allowed a question to be posed of the MOE about taking into account past indiscretions of industrial proponents when considering an ECA. (DiCenzo and/or his companies have paid two MOE fines in the past.)
Wrigley responded that, since 1989, Ontario law has included a “financial assurance” from any proponent that could produce significant waste. In short, Green Arc was required to hand over sufficient cash to the MOE so, if the business fails with thousands of used tires stored on site, there’s funding to clean it all up.
But it was DiCenzo, himself, who first took the meeting out of the environmental realm. In his very opening words, he effectively pushed back against the bad press he has received of late regarding his past business challenges.
He admitted to having had some setbacks in the past, but added there have also been successes. And he stressed there’s no government money tied up in Green Arc. (An early 1990s television program surfaced online recently, citing a police investigation into a since-failed factory in Nova Scotia.)
“It’s unfortunate that candidates for Council have chosen to challenge our environmental record, and my own personal credibility. Most recently, I have been subjected to comments that are both slanderous and libelous, and it’s time to move forward.”
Needless to say, after those words from the often quiet DiCenzo, the rest of Monday’s meeting seemed anti-climactic.