Scratch Alan Marshall from the list of CPAC members. Even before the new committee has met, the outspoken critic of Chemtura Co. has been given the boot, labelled as uncooperative. It’s the second time he’s been removed from the committee.
Woolwich councillors made the move this week in response to a series of emails and blog postings in which Marshall bemoaned the lack of action from the Chemtura Public Advisory Committee. The watchdog group has been idle since last fall, and hasn’t even arranged its first meeting under the current term of council.
Marshall was one of six members appointed just last month to a revamped committee following new terms of reference and an overhaul promised by Mayor Todd Cowan.
After Tuesday night’s decision, Cowan said he’s been cautioned about re-appointing Marshall to CPAC, but hoped Marshall’s extensive knowledge of the longstanding environment issues would trump his sharp criticisms of the process.
This is familiar ground for Marshall, who was kicked off CPAC three years ago for often unfiltered comments. For now, he plans to continue as he did following the 2008 decision by remaining involved as a vocal activist for a cleaner environment in Elmira.
Marshall, who appeared before council Tuesday, said he heard shortly before his presentation that council was looking to remove him due to his complaints about “unreasonable delays” in organizing a CPAC meeting and his plans to address council, even though it was as a private citizen only.
In speaking to councillors, he urged the township to move quickly to appoint two CPAC members to a committee looking at Chemtura’s bid for reverification under the Responsible Care program of the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (formerly the Canadian Chemical Producers’ Association).
“This reverification is a huge deal for Chemtura, and they indeed failed multiple times in the late 90s and early 2000s to achieve it. A significant part of those failures were the lack of a proper and open relationship with the community,” he told councillors, arguing the company will be more cooperative while vying to regain its verification as a responsible operator.
Coupled with a provincial election set for the fall, the timing is ideal to push for a cleanup of dioxins on the site, the remains of previous production of the defoliant Agent Orange.
“The Ontario government and the Ministry of the Environment will be much more willing to actually remove Agent Orange before the election rather than after. Now is construction season. Now is the time to appoint two new CPAC members to this imminent reverification team.”
Councillors, however, took no action on Marshall’s suggestions. Instead, the only discussion later in the meeting involved his removal from CPAC, his conduct having been discussed in a closed session earlier in the evening. A motion of dismissal was quickly approved, with little discussion.
“When people disrespect the process, it makes me wonder if they want to be part of the team,” said Coun. Mark Bauman, the sole returning member from the previous council that pushed Marshall off the committee in 2008.
While Bauman questioned Marshall’s “people skills,” Marshall later said he’s guilty only of “wearing my heart on my sleeve.”
Although grateful for being reappointed to CPAC, he said he had to “call a spade a spade” in calling out council for its inaction.
“Something is horribly wrong with CPAC. There’s no reasonable explanation for what’s happening … for what’s not happening. We’ve gotten nowhere,” he said Wednesday.
Although he intends to stay involved for the time being, Marshall predicted he’d call it quits in three or four years when the current term of CPAC expires.
“I’ve been doing this for 22 years. “I’m done. I’m finished. I’ve done my duty,” he said. “After this [term] is done, I will be throwing in the towel.”