Council wants questions, residents want answers
by Roger Varley
A sizeable crowd from Goodwood was on hand for Monday’s meeting of Uxbridge council to hear discussion on the proposed zoning bylaw amendment being sought by Grainboys Inc. to allow it to establish a grain-cleaning facility just east of the hamlet.
Council received several letters from residents opposing the proposal and Ward 1 Councillor Pam Beach put forward a report asking council to delay its decision on the application for 30 days. Planning committee chair Gord Highet noted that it was long past the 150 days in which council is technically required to respond to the application, saying the application was now at the 260-day mark. He said that, technically, Grainboys could already have taken to issue to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) for resolution. LPAT was put in place following the dissolution of the much criticized Ontario Municipal Board.
In the discussion that followed, including the unusual inclusion of comments from the public, Councillor Willie Popp offered that the township needs to look at the way information is given to residents and what that information should entail. His comment came after one lady told council the Grainboys issue “sort of snuck up on me.”
“We don’t have to limit ourselves to the minimum Planning Act requirements,” the councillor said.
Eventually, council decided to give residents until the end of this week to email their questions to council regarding the proposed development. Then council will take a week to find the answers to those questions. Following that, they will await a report from township planning consultant Elizabeth Howson. That will take them into the first week of February, just short of the 30-day delay Councillor Beach had requested.
Former Ward 1 councillor Bev Northeast told the Goodwood residents there will be a meeting tonight (Thursday) at the Goodwood community centre to hash out what questions should be sent to council.
If the bylaw amendment is allowed, Grainboys proposes to shift its current operations – Port Royal Mills Ltd. – from an industrial park in Aurora to the agricultural land on Highway 47. The development would see the inclusion of 18 60-foot silos to hold the various grains the company brings in to process for the food industry. Most of the grains would come from Ontario, but some would come from the rest of North America and some from Asia. Grainboys has said it would involve about 10 truck deliveries a day.
On Tuesday, Highet said he hopes to take another unusual approach and make Howson’s report to council available to the public earlier than normal before it is presented in council.
“We hope to make a decision early in February,” he said, “but we could push it back if we have to. There are questions that need to be answered.”
In response to some residents’ claims that the grain-cleaning operation needs to be situated on an industrial site, he said Grainboys is “right on the line between agricultural and industrial.” He noted that the area where Grainboys proposes to situate is already a mixed use area, ranging from industrial (Cobra Manufacturing) to commercial (Richter’s Herbs) to agriculture.
Councillor Beach said that Grainboys had tried to acquire a site on Uxbridge’s industrial parks but there was no land available for them. She said she understood the concerns of residents regarding trucks, dust, noise and rodents, but offered that traffic on the arterial highway is not meant to be limited. As for rodents, she said Grainboys facility in Aurora is visited every week by health inspectors.
She also noted that, although there are no guarantees, the facility could be good for the township’s farmers and agriculture within Durham Region by giving them somewhere to sell their grains and also to help them with crop planning for future years.