05/13/2014 07:15 EDT | Updated 07/13/2014 05:59 EDT

'Hard environmental data' needed for action on concrete plant, city says

The City of Toronto says that currently nothing can be done about the dust and constant rumbling of trucks from a concrete mixing facility in Mimico that neighbourhood residents worry could be harming peoples’ health.

The ML Ready Mix plant at 29 Judson St. set-up shop as a timber facility shortly after purchasing the land — in Toronto’s old rail corridor — from CP Rail in 2001 and began mixing concrete at the site in 2007.

The plant sits on the south side of the residential street, and neighbours have been complaining to the city for several years that traffic generated by tractor trailers, dump trucks and the accompanying dust and noise are affecting quality of life in the area.

“We don’t wash our cars on Judson Street. [Dust] is on our patio furniture, in our houses. Trucks go by and it’s a massive cloud of dust,” said Dan Irwin, who lives up the street. 

There have recently been calls from people who live in the area for the city, in conjunction with the province, to carry out a thorough environmental assessment at the plant to determine whether there are any possible health risks associated with dust and particulates emanating from the facility.

Health worries

Resident Sam Piscione, who called the situation “unbearable,” worries what affect the plant might have on his children, who spent most of “their formative years inhaling that crap,” he said.

According to Ward 5 city councillor and chair of the city’s planning commission Peter Milczyn, HL Ready Mix operated without a certificate of approval from the Ministry of Environment until last year, and built structures and several fences without prior approval from the city.

“It is an outfit that doesn’t seemed too concerned about following any rules or procedures in advance,” he told CBC News.

At a meeting of the Etobicoke York Community Council Tuesday night, Milczyn will hear from neighbourhood residents about what they would like to see from an environmental review. He said he hopes that eventually the director of Toronto Public Health, along with the environment minister, will commission a study exploring the potential consequences of dust emissions at the site.

“We don’t have hard data about exactly how much emissions that come from the plant effect the people living across the street or down the block or around the corner. And that’s what is missing. We need the hard data,” said Milczyn.

The company obtained the proper environmental certifications in September 2013 and said that it has spent $1 million since 2007 to comply with all required environmental regulations.

Milczyn points out the city amended zoning by-laws to prevent concrete facilities from operating in residential areas in 2012, but HL Ready Mix was unaffected because they were ‘grandfathered’ at their current location.

“The people down on Judson, their experiences are that the amount of dust is not acceptable. They feel it’s affecting their health … if we do confirm that, than we can really take action against the plant, including potentially shutting it down,” said Milczyn.

The company has claimed publicly that the city has not cooperated with its attempts to move the facility to a new location, but Milczyn said the company refuses to apply or wait for the documentation required to make the move.