Greenhouse developments around Kingsville raising resident concerns
'We live in the country for the beauty of the landscape,' says Chris O'Neil
It's a full house at Kingsville council with residents wanting to raise their concerns about greenhouses propping up around town.
Removal of natural vegetation, light pollution and noisy trucks are factors brought up during the meeting Monday night by Michael Burns, spokesperson for Kingsville Property Owners, a Facebook group started by Chris O'Neil.
"It will never, ever, be used as traditional farmland after that," said O'Neil.
He said the newer greenhouses are very tall, some about 10 metres, and "lit all night long."
"And here, we live in the country for the beauty of the landscape, the animals, and watching the farmers plow their fields and grow their crops and harvest."
The meeting ended after Burns and Justine Taylor, a spokesperson for the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG), spoke in front of council. There was no vote.
O'Neil and Wes Mulcaster, who has lived in Kingsville for 40 years, say the greenhouses affect their quality of life.
Not only that, O'Neil argues they raise the value of the local farmland, costing farmers more in taxes, but devalue nearby property.
Mulcaster said the farms near his property are being bought by people with intentions to put greenhouses on the land.
They've already had a meeting with Essex MPP Taras Natyshak, who Mulcaster said is trying to set up a meeting with Ontario Agriculture Minister Ernie Hardeman.
"Where else can we go? We'll take whatever advice we can," he said.
It’s a controversial issue in the county. There’s a full house tonight. <a href="https://t.co/WBmwZUXQSR">pic.twitter.com/WBmwZUXQSR</a>—@JasonViauCBC
Jobs depend on greenhouses
Meanwhile, the OGVG defend the town's greenhouses, saying they're "world class" and meet demand for fresh vegetables when the weather gets cold.
Taylor, the OGVG spokesperson, estimates that one in five people in the community relies directly or indirectly on the greenhouse industry for employment.
However, O'Neil said the town should consider whether it wants a greenhouse industry in Kingsville, similar to what Leamington has going.
If they decide to have more greenhouses in the community, he suggests the new ones should be built in an industrial complex away from residences, instead of being scattered "throughout the countryside."
Taylor said OGVG wants to work collaboratively with the community to address any concerns. The organization has drafted a proposal to address some of the concerns and it's being circulated among OGVG members.
“What a waste of time,” one resident said on the way out. <br><br>That part of the meeting is over after the two delegates spoke. <br><br>No vote from council on this issue. <br><br>They’ve moved on to other things on the agenda. <a href="https://t.co/JpZ8ZsH66V">pic.twitter.com/JpZ8ZsH66V</a>—@JasonViauCBC
With files from Stacey Janzer and Jason Viau