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Neighbours can air out complaints on industrial odour at meeting - InsideToronto

July 28, 2010
Danielle Milley

Residents of the Birkdale area are finding it offensive to spend time in their backyards this summer.

There's a bit of an odour problem in the area that is keeping them from enjoying their pools and patios, they say. The community has been trying to work with Atlantic Packaging to remedy the problem and allow them to once again breathe freely.

John McDonald has lived in the area since 2000 and he said while he's smelled something foul in the past it's gotten worse this year.

"(I smelled it) a couple of times last year and it's unbearable this year," he said. "It's a hard odour to describe. It's like a tinny smell."

As soon as the weather got warm, the odour became a problem. It's not constant, but McDonald said he notices it at least once a day.

"You can't enjoy the backyard," he said. "You can't go outside."

In an effort to get the issue resolved, the Toronto Environmental Alliance has been working with residents on a Good Neighbour campaign and Scarborough Centre Councillor Michael Thompson has also been working with the company, residents and the Ministry of the Environment to get the problem addressed.

Thompson is holding a meeting Thursday, July 29, for residents with representatives from Atlantic Packaging and the MOE scheduled to attend. It takes place at the Scarborough Civic
Centre, 150 Borough Dr., from 7 to 9 p.m.

He said he was first made aware of the issue in March and has been working with the company, which recycles and manufactures cardboard, to address the community's concerns.

Some residents Thompson has spoken with are concerned the odour might pose a health risk, which he asked the MOE about.

"They have informed me that it's not something they're concerned about," he said. "It's just an odour issue."

Atlantic Packaging operates two plants in the Midland and Progress avenues area, one at the intersection and the other at 333 Progress Ave., which was opened in 2006. It is believed the odour is coming from the newer facility.

Roger Keeley of Atlantic Packaging said they've hired consultants to look into the issue to get it resolved.

"We just want to make sure we get it addressed as quickly as possible," he said.

Heather Marshall, TEA's Good Neighbour co-ordinator, said the company has been responsive to concerns.

"They really have shown a lot of interest to get to the bottom of it and quickly," she said.

TEA first began investigating the issue in January. Marshall, herself, had been aware of the odour in the past when she used to regularly take the Scarborough RT, which runs by the plants.

"As we started talking to more people we realized it was something many people had been dealing with for a number of years," she said.

Though not all people in the area are bothered by the smell, some are more concerned about a noise issue.

The Good Neighbour campaign is about opening lines of communication between residents, businesses and Atlantic Packaging.

"People want to keep (Atlantic Packaging) in the neighbourhood, they just want them to be a bit greener," Marshall said.

TEA has organized a few community meetings so far and is working with a group of residents on the issue. Its next community meeting takes place Wednesday, Aug. 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the Birkdale Community Centre, 1299 Ellesmere Rd.

As published here: http://www.insidetoronto.com/news/local/article/853592--neighbours-can-air-out-complaints-on-industrial-odour-at-meeting

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