Opposition to OMYA's water request is broad, active and growing
Don Boyle
The Ottawa Citizen
Monday, December 16, 2002

OMYA Canada president Olivier Chatillon has characterized those who support the Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) decision as a "handful of opponents." This is an important matter to correct, as this charge is regularly included in the company's script.

When OMYA applied for the original Permit To Take Water, 283 local residents wrote to the Minister of the Environment expressing their concerns; and this in the very short 30-day period allowed for public input. After the permit was granted, 10 citizens then sought and received leave to appeal. They were joined by two organizations, the Lanark Citizens' Action Group of some 200 local residents, and the Council of Canadians, whose national membership numbers approximately 100,000.

The Bob's and Crow Lakes Association representing about 300 cottagers on the lakes, which are the source of the river, the Perth Community Association of some 100 members, and the Ardoch Algonquin First Nations, consisting of hundreds of native people, requested and were given status at the hearing.

Now that OMYA has appealed the compromise decision of the ERT, this "handful of opponents" has grown even more. The Friends of the Tay, a broadly based stewardship organization, is now also actively supporting the ERT decision. In May, The Tay Legal Defence Fund was formed. It has since raised more than $8,000 from the donations of many hundreds of citizens. More than 1,200 citizens have collectively petitioned the minister of the environment on this issue since June.

The frequent repetition of a falsehood does not make it a fact.

Don Boyle,
Chair, Tay River Legal Defence Fund


Limited data skew water-use analysis
Mel Fleming
The Ottawa Citizen
Friday, December 20, 2002

Re: Critics of OMYA's request for water should cite facts, Dec. 11.

I am shocked that letter-writer Wayne Steele made unsubstantiated claims.

The federal Department of Fisheries' initial report to the Ontario Environmental Tribunal was based on 1920s data that were not accurately determined or complete. DFO did a marvellous job of extrapolating this initial data, but garbage in is garbage out. The extrapolations are projections based on inaccurate data leading to a multiplication of inaccuracies.

The use of water from the Tay River by Perth is about the same as that planned to be taken by OMYA. However, most of that water is returned to the Tay.

Answers to the questions asked by Mr. Steele about how much businesses use, "does 3M take, Perth Soap use, the golf course use," were unknown when the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) issued its initial permit. There was no control of the overall water-taking. So how did MOE make its decision to issue the permit?

I cannot understand how the ifs, buts, maybes and should-bes can be used to grant the permit, particularly after the tribunal's hearings. The so-called evidence provided by the scientists and experts is also ifs, buts, maybes and should-bes. There is only conjecture about how the Tay River, Bob's Lake and Crow Lake are affected by the water-taking proposed by OMYA. The proof requires studying the actual impact by using the tribunal's interim decision to allow 1,483 cu. metres a day of water-taking. Using actual studies is the only way these impacts can be measured.

Mel Fleming,