Protester pull U-turn at MRC meet in Chelsea, Quebec

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by admin on April 28, 2011

Demonstrators march down Old Chelsea Road at a rally for the Gatineau River April 21.

Force council to reverse direction on Farrellton septic treatment plant

The dust from a mass protest march in Chelsea, Quebec had barely settled when a smaller one arose later at the MRC des Collines meeting. Residents who stayed for the duration of MRC business prevented the mayors from making a move to rezone agricultural land for a sewage treatment facility.

A group of about 10 residents stormed back into the chambers April 21 because an agenda item about the proposed sewage treatment system caught their attention.

If passed, the resolution would allow the law firm Fahey and Associates to ask the provincial commission that protects agricultural land (CPTAQ) to use the two sites proposed for the treatment plant.

Currently, the Farrellton sites – on Echo Dale Road and Hwy 105 near O’Connor Road – are zoned for agricultural use only.

Despite what the seven MRC des Collines mayors said about delaying the decision on the proposed sewage treatment facility, the group felt the move was an underhanded attempt to push through the sewage treatment project.

“You will have a mandate to go ahead and change the zoning,” said Juniper Farm owner Sandy Mackay-Smith toward near the end of question period. After Bussiere explained that the resolution only allows the law firm to look at the agricultural qualities of the two sites, the group of residents, still confused, left the council chambers.

Jacqueline Corado, a lawyer who is also a new Masham resident, told the group that the resolution actually gives the law firm the authority to begin the rezoning process through CPTAQ.

That prompted the protesters’ march back into the meeting and demand that the mayors revoke the decision on the sewage treatment facility. Bussiere agreed to push the decision back to June.

“It was probably premature,” Bussiere told the Low Down about the decision.

Earlier that evening, more than 500 protesters marched to the MRC building, demanding a halt to the project. The original plan is to use an aerated lagoon technology that is similar to the plant in Kazabazua. But many fear the Farrellton installation will pollute the Gatineau River.

MRC des Collines prefect Bussiere said the decision on the proposed sites and technology has been delayed.

A report will be released for public viewing at the end of May, it will be tabled in June and will later go to a public consultation.