Uxbridge, Ont. council set to vote on controversial grain processing mill
Dozens of residents of Goodwood, Ont., expected to attend the meeting to oppose development
Residents in the Hamlet of Goodwood — part of the Township of Uxbridge and shooting location for the CBC's Schitt's Creek — are expected to show up in force at an Uxbridge council meeting Monday where officials will vote on whether to allow a grain processing mill to be built in the area.
Residents have expressed several concerns with the proposed Grainboys Holdings Inc. facility, saying among other things that it's too industrial for their rural community.
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"The residents of Goodwood and those in Uxbridge that are concerned aren't anti-business," said Mark Josephs, a resident and business owner in the area.
"Being in an industrial park would be a more appropriate location."
Some are also worried about increased truck traffic, fire hazards as well as whether the facility will bring in any invasive weeds.
The concerns remain despite a recently released report from Uxbridge's town planner, Elizabeth Howson, which recommends that the proposal move forward if certain conditions are met.
Uxbridge Mayor Dave Barton said he's also in favour of the facility being built.
"To me, this is the type of business that should exist in an agricultural community," he said.
"Whenever we can have the processing of food closer to the fields where the food is grown, I think that's a win."
Grainboys Holdings Inc.
Kresho Petrovich, president of Grainboys Holdings Inc., defended the project in a written statement to CBC News.
"Our business is clean, reputable and safe and will benefit the local economy and farming community," he wrote.
"We stand by our submission and believe that it is sound and valid and look forward to a positive conclusion."
The proposed mill would include a 40,000-square-foot dry grain processing plant, supplied by farms and granaries in Durham Region, a 60-foot processing tower and 18 surge bins, according to the planner's report.
Grainboys Holdings Inc. has a facility in Aurora, Ont., where Barton visited before deciding whether he'd back the proposal.
"When there's change that's always difficult," he said.
"It may look like a more industrial-style facility. But these people are making the food that we eat every day."
'I'm very concerned'
Residents don't seem to agree with the assessment, citing a number of risks with the plan.
Josephs said allowing the application to move forward may allow other companies to make similar requests, endangering the land.
"It's on the Oak Ridges Moraine and so it's protected land," he said, referring to the 160 kilometres of land running from the Trent River to the Niagara Escarpment, according to the government of Ontario's website.
"The precedent has been set … if this was to go through."
According to the planner's report though, the company is complying with standards set in the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (ORMCP), as it falls under "agriculture-related uses."
The mill must also work with farms in the surrounding area to satisfy the designation.
In the planner's report, the company wrote it wanted to be closer to suppliers in Durham Region in order to "encourage agreements for the provision of grains to the facility."
Still, the potential facility's next door neighbour, Conrad Richter, said there's another major concern.
As the president and owner of Richters Herbs — a herb, plant and seed business — he's worried the facility might bring in prohibited noxious weeds.
"I'm very concerned," he said.
"The list of weeds that they will be checking for don't agree with the list of weeds that I'm regulated for federally, so there's sort of a regulatory and legal gap that would directly affect me."
Richter is also president of the newly formed Goodwood Conservation Association, which was created to oppose the mill, he said.
According to the planner's report, the facility will be required to design mitigation measures to satisfy the concerns about noxious weeds.
Additionally, they must pay for a township-appointed weed inspector to monitor the facility.
Some local businesses in favour
The planner's report noted the city received 104 written submissions about the facility, including a letter with questions signed by 28 residents.
Five of the submissions supported the application, one of which was written by Howie Herrema, a principal owner of Herrelea Farms in Uxbridge.
"If we have a chance to have a local source for us to sell some of our product to, it's definitely a win," he said.
Herrema admits others closer to the plant may not share his opinion, but he said they may change their minds.
"I believe that the resident's will be — when it's completed and up and running, the landscaping is finished — that they will be pleased."