Ethanol Plant at Oshawa Harbour


For a number of years there has been a proposal to build an ethanol refinery at Oshawa Harbour. When The Federal Government created the Oshawa Port Authority last year, they included a parcel of land known as Gifford's Hill which the Port Authority immediately offered to Farmtech to build their refinery. This would be located at the lower right of the picture here. As you can see it is immediately adjacent to a large wetland.

This is Oshawa's Second Marsh, shown above, a provincially significant wetland and the largest urban wetland between Niagara to the Bay of Quinte.

DurhamCLEAR opposes this project on a number of fronts:

  • a large industrial project is an inappropriate use for such a sensitive site.
  • the proposed facility has repeatedly tried to get environmental approvals from both the provincial and federal governments and in each case they have withdrawn their applications before a decision was rendered
  • the facility is opposed by both the City Council of Oshawa and the Regional Council of Durham
  • ethanol is not the clean fuel it was once reputed to be - the carbon footprint is no better than gasoline
  • the feedstock for for this plant would be corn and the land where it is grown could be much better used to produce food.

The Port Authority originally said that construction would start last fall (2012) but they hadn't done their due diligence. Before they could do anything, federal regulations required them to do a land use plan which is subject to public consultation.

They also need environmental approvals. The Port Authority consists entirely of Conservative appointees - most with close connections with Whitby-Oshawa MP and Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty. It seems apparent that they felt they could squeeze through the cracks between federal and provincial authority, especially after the federal government gutted federal environmental rules in the budget bill last spring. However the Ontario Ministry of the Environment has told them that they still need their approval.

Public opposition to an ethanol plant on the lakeshore was fast and fierce. A grassroots organization sprang up almost immediately. Friends of Oshawa's Waterfront has launched numerous initiatives including alawn sign campaign (the S end of Oshawa is covered with signs) petitions and public information meetings. For further information, visit their Facebook page at

A second organization, Friends of the Second Marsh, has also been fighting the project. 'Friends' has been in existence for a number of years and has been trying to get funding to establish the Ontario Wetlands Centre on the shores of the marshas an educational and recreational attraction. You can find further information at Friends of the Second Marsh is prepared to take Farmtech and/or the Port Authority to court if the project proceeds.

Oshawa City Council has also reiterated its opposition to the plant. They point out that there are much better places to build it such as Brock Township which has offered to find a location for it.

Opposition to the plan has solidified in recent months because of 2 accidents in the Port area. In November there was a spill of 33% Magnesium Chloride into the Harbour from a ship and in January there was a major fire at the McAshphalt plant immediately north of the proposed ethanol site. A thick plume of black smoke drifted more than 10 miles east for much of the day.