Groupe Chenail is not backing away from its proposed asphalt factory on Covey Hill in Havelock, despite opposition from the municipality and public outcry against the project. The company, which is based in Saint-Remi, has filed an appeal for judicial review before the Superior Court to establish the final compliance of the asphalt plant with Havelock’s zoning bylaw.
In a press release issued on September 1, Groupe Chenail confirms the company is seeking a court order that will require the municipality to inform the Commission de protection du territoire agricole (CPTAQ) that the application for authorization for the asphalt factory does in fact comply with the municipal zoning by-law.
“Since the start of the project, we have been transparent and collaborative with the municipality of Havelock,” says Réal Chenail, the president of Groupe Chenail, who insists municipal authorities from Havelock have previously confirmed the conformity of the project on two occasions.
Groupe Chenail submitted a formal request for authorization to be submitted to the CPTAQ by the municipality on May 12, 2021, that included a description of the project to develop and operate an asphalt plant at the existing Carrière Ducharme Inc. quarry on Covey Hill. According to the Act respecting the protection of agricultural land and agricultural activities, the municipality was then required to send the CPTAQ and Groupe Chenail its recommendation, as well as a notice regarding compliance with any applicable zoning bylaws or interim control measures. Groupe Chenail received notice from the CPTAQ on July 28 that the file on the establishment of the asphalt plant was being closed following notice from Havelock that it did not comply with the zoning bylaw.
“We expect a public administration to be consistent in its handling of any file that is submitted to it,” Chenail says. “In this case, we are asking the municipality to rectify the situation with the CPTAQ and with citizens regarding the conformity of the uses of the plant.”
Chenail notes that a meeting with citizens scheduled for August to present the details of the project and address any concerns was postponed, as the company now waits to see if the project can move forward.
“We wish to continue our collaboration with the municipality of Havelock and to continue our contribution to the socio-economic development of the region, while ensuring that the project is carried out in harmony with the community,” claims Chenail, who says he is hoping for a quick resolution to the current situation.
The Gleaner contacted the office of the municipality of Havelock for comment following the decision by Groupe Chenail to bring this dispute to the Superior Court. The municipality is aware of the statements made by Groupe Chenail and is now consulting with lawyers to respond appropriately.
In a statement on behalf of the Friends of Covey Hill, a group united against the implementation of the asphalt factory, Pascale Bourguinon points to a lack of transparency on the part of the municipality of Havelock towards its citizens. “It seems to us that this press release aims to frighten the municipality and the citizens of Havelock by trying to gag them with lawsuits that would be very costly for a small municipality,” she says.
Bourguinon also questions the company’s stated intention to listen to concerns echoing through the community. “To speak of harmony when 150 citizens are lining up at the doors of the municipality to refuse the establishment of this plant seems unreal to us, especially when equipment has been moved in without an official permit.”
The community has loudly voiced concerns about the project, citing the impact it will have on traffic in the area, as well as the environmental costs of the factory in terms of pollution, dust, and possible contamination of the aquifer that supplies the region with water.