Grain processing mill gets green light despite opposition

Some Goodwood residents spoke out strongly against the facility's location

Irate residents of Goodwood had strong words for Uxbridge Mayor Dave Barton following the unanimous vote on a zoning by-law amendment.


Uxbridge - A controversial gain processing mill is one step closer to being established in Goodwood following Uxbridge council's unanimous support for a zoning by-law amendment

"Whichever way this goes, just know we're all here to do our very best for the town and either way, there will be a number of people who aren't happy," urged Uxbridge Mayor Dave Barton at the outset of the April 8 meeting. "We're all neighbours here, most of us grew up together, let's try and be as respectful as possible?”

Goodwood residents who were in strong opposition to the proposed 40,000-square-foot dry grain processing plant, with a 60-foot processing tower and 18 surge bins being erected at 351 Regional Road 47 didn't relent.

They hammered the council with hard questions regarding potential explosion and fire risk, prohibited noxious weeds and the proximity to the hamlet's residential areas along with concerns around noise, dust, rodents, road safety and well water contamination.

"It's not supposed to be where the residential area is supposed to be," said Janice, a Goodwood resident who refused to provide her last name. "How come you didn't ask any of the residents, just the farmers to talk. Why didn't you call one of us to come up and tell our side of the story"

The applicant from Grainboys Holdings Inc. sat unnoticed in the front row facing the Uxbridge councillors during the meeting, while residents of the hamlet fired questions and lobbied for an opportunity to speak.

"I didn't want to really point him out in this room," said Barton. "There was a lot of passion in the room. I want to listen to constituents, I want to have a two-way dialogue (but) it's very complex to do that when people are shouting at you.”

Council green-lighting the zoning by-law amendment was only the first step in along line of steps for GrainBoys, said Barton.

Liz Howson, Uxbridge town planner, said the zoning by-law holding provisions will only be lifted after the appropriate studies and requirements have been met.

The applicants will require a detailed design of the site services including a water and sewage plan, stormwater management plan, well monitoring plan for a minimum of five years, a lighting plan, landscaping plan and a Traffic Impact Brief to address the operation of the site and site access.

This would include the establishment of a truck-haul route to minimize the number of trucks traveling through the hamlet and prohibiting truck deliveries outside of eight a.m. to five p.m.

In regards to rodents, the Grainboys indicated they have a strict policy with respect to their certified food safety program which requires weekly inspection by a pest control company.

There will need to be a detailed plan of the facility as it relates to mitigating any risk related to the spread of noxious weeds in accordance to federal, provincial and municipal regulations and an agreement to have a weed inspector appointed to monitor the facility on a regular basis.

This is cold comfort to Goodwood resident and businessman Conrad Richter, president of Richters Hettas, which abuts the east side of the proposed build-ing site. Richter submitted a 10-page deputation to council addressing the potential intro-duction of federally prohibited noxious weeds (PNW) through the grain processing facility which could be catastrophic for his business.

"There are 21 federal weeds for which there is zero tolerance, all of which are not on the pro-vincial noxious weeds list," said Richter. "As a federally regulated company, we can not have a certain set of weeds growing on our property, contaminating our plants. They cannot be in our seeds that we also sell."

Richter said he is audited five times a year and has obtained a number of certifications to allow him to export his product across Canada and into the United States. Richter presented council with four submissions and a deputation backed up by research and references but feels they didn't fully grasp the seriousness of the issue.

"The seeds (for Grainboys) are coming in as food for consumption; the federal government does not even look at those seeds. I know how they're packaged, but there is no government oversight at the time of entry into this country," said Richter.

"My seeds are, but not theirs. It’s 1,000 tonnes. There's not a garden seed company in this entire country that deals with 1,000 tonnes of seeds a year.” He said in order for the coun-cil to effectively implement the federal regulations they would have to mimic what the Canadian Food Inspection Agency does.

"CFIA enforces federal weed and pest plant regulations and broad power to seize and destroy contaminated products and to stop imports," said Richter. "It has inspectors, enforcement officers, scientists. I cannot see how Uxbridge Township can effectively implement this kind of control. And whatever the township does will always be reactionary in nature as opposed to proactive."

Barton agreed that there is the smallest of chances a prohibited noxious weed seed could be brought into the facility, but given the opportunity for the seed to leave the building is minuscule.

"They (grain and seeds) go directly into a building in a bag, on a skid, often I think they are shipping container loads," said Barton. "You mould have to have an accident in the one-inch gap if there is one because they are typically sealed. From a mitigation standpoint, I'm not worried about that risk."

Richter said the Goodwood Conservation Authority will be holding a meeting to consider their options moving forward. Howson had mentioned a member of the public or an agency could appeal which could end up at the Local Planning Appeal Tribune, however, because the zoning by-law amendment was passed by the council the recom-mendation would carry a good deal of weight.

GERRIT HERREMA and his father Howie spoke in support of the facility noting there is an opportunity for farmers in Uxbridge, the Region and Durham as well as York to increase their competitive edge with grain processing plant within the township.

"We will have the ability, if this goes forward, to sell grains at a price that is more competitive because our proximity to it," said Howie Herrema. "Now with the new Carbon Pricing that's come in, even that's added to our cost of production especially in transportation, none of that is exempt in agri-cultural payments. We can see a lot of advantages."

He added there are approximately 280 grain producing farmers in Uxbridge and 880 across Durham Region that could contribute to meeting Grainboys needs.

Gerrit Herrema said grain marketing would fit into the philosophy of their farm to sell locally, noting they don't have much to gain personally but know what a point of pride it is when their milk has the opportunity to supply Kawartha Dairy and serve not only their neighbours but go out across the province.

"You hear of a business that potentially will serve the agriculture community you want to support it," said the 25-year-old farmer. "Our family has always felt that having agricultural businesses in the area benefits the ag community and the township. I'm not coming from a vested interest, I just believe in a strong agricultural business community."

Gerrit said the facility won't be on the grand scale that residents of Goodwood are picturing, it won't be providing hundreds of jobs but it will create local jobs that will feed back into the community. He pointed to the number of farmers who have kids in hockey, who coach, are active in the community and serve on fair boards and other organizations and spend their money in the township.

"This mill is a good fit and not to mention when they mill proposed gets up and running those that are going to be working in the business will also be active in the community," he said. "This isn't just good for Uxbridge, this is good for Goodwood and this is good for the township as well as Durham Region and other areas."