Greenhouse developments around Kingsville raising resident concerns

Greenhouses are a growing industry in Kingsville, but some residents are finding issues with them.

'We live in the country for the beauty of the landscape,' says Chris O'Neil

Greenhouses have been propping up throughout the town, a sight some residents find concerning. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

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.

Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos says he hears from residents who are concerned about the effects of light pollution, as well as residents who see the lights as a beautiful 'Northern Light kind of experience.' (Submitted by Rosemary Tako)

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.

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.

With files from Stacey Janzer and Jason Viau