A proposed biochar facility is one step closer to becoming a reality in Haliburton County. The facility would be constructed on a property that used to have a wood pellet operation seen here. FILE PHOTO

Biochar facility approved by publicplanning committee

By Angelica Ingram

Dec. 7 2016

A proposed biochar facility that theHaliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve wants to construct onKennaway Road is one step closer to becoming a reality.

On Dec. 5 the Dysart public planningcommittee recommended approving a rezoning application following twopublic meetings that were filled with questions from neighbouringresidents.

Concerns have included drainage issuesnoise traffic emissions and more.

Last week the Haliburton CountyDevelopment Corporation submitted a letter to the municipality insupport of the proposal said Dysart planning director PatriciaMartin.

The facility will be constructed at1088 Kennaway Road a property which is already owned by HaliburtonForest and is zoned for industrial purposes.

President of the Drag and Spruce LakesProperty Owners Association Karl Gonnsen questioned whether the typeof facility being proposed was permitted under the general industrialzone as he believes the biochar facility is a waste disposal plant.

Dysart planning director PatriciaMartin is classifying it as a processing plant.

Gonnsen requested that council postponethe zoning change until the required environmental approvals were inplace.

“The problem is we're not getting theinformation we need” he said.

Gonnsen added that as president of theassociation he wasn't in a position to say whether or not they wereagainst the proposal as there were too many unknowns.

One of the biggest areas of concern wassmell he said.

General manager of the HaliburtonForest Malcolm Cockwell said staff would be happy to meet to answerany questions.

Chair of the public planning committeeand Dysart Deputy-reeve Andrea Roberts said she had to trust theMinistry of Environment and Climate Change and added there is arigorous approval system the applicant must go through.

Resident Jim Blake said he was a nearbyneighbour to the project and has reviewed all the research aboutbiochar.

Blake said the proposal was “a mostdesirable business for Haliburton County” as it was locally ownedand had the potential to create 20 year round jobs and infuse moneyinto the county.

Area resident Jim Miners said Gonnsendid not speak on behalf of everyone in the lake association as therehas been no vote taken which he wanted on the record.

“He does not speak for me” saidMiners.

The committee recommended the zoningchange be approved. The file will be on the Dec. 12 Dysart councilagenda.