PEMBROKE, Ont. – Braeside Ridge residents are in court today to let a local construction company know that a residential neighbourhood is no place for an asphalt plant.
Ecojustice Canada is representing the residents, who filed a civil action for $25,000 in damages for nuisance and trespass against Smiths Construction Company, a division of The Miller Group Inc., operators of the Braeside Quarry. The plaintiffs allege that they have suffered adverse effects,including physical discomfort and loss of enjoyment of their properties as a result of the operation of a portable asphalt plant situated in the quarry
The trial will take place in Small Claims Court in Pembroke Superior Court from Aug. 22 to Sept. 2.
Plaintiff Norma Moore said the emissions have made working outside unbearable. “While many Canadians are enjoying summer barbecues, resting and relaxing in their backyards, I’m unable to open the windows to get some fresh air, entertain guests or share my garden with others,” said Moore. “This plant has ruined the quality of life for many of us in Braeside and we are unwilling to tolerate it without a fight.”
The Ministry of the Environment Certificate of Approval for this operation warned that adverse effect may arise under certain atmospheric conditions, and cautions the operator to use all reasonable care to prevent such occurrences. The plant continues to operate without an adequate method of odour control.
“The law of nuisance protects local communities from industrial plants that cause unreasonable noise and smell – we believe this is such a case,” said Lynda Collins, a professor with the Centre for Environmental Law and Global Sustainability at the University of Ottawa and pro bono counsel for Ecojustice.
Residents first brought their concerns to the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) after the asphalt plant opened in fall of 2009. They saw minor improvements after working with the MOE, but decided on legal action when it became clear that the noise and odour weren’t going away.
“Braeside residents have a right to peace and quiet and clean air just like every Canadian,” said Linda McCaffrey, pro bono counsel for Ecojustice. “This action is about protecting these rights in court. A victory in this case would send a clear message that people come before industry.”