Council tight-lipped over grain terminal after threat of litigation

 

The lead up to the July 16 South Dundas Council meeting foreshadowed of lively debate and potential conflict, but the end result was quite the opposite.

Those opposed to the potential grain terminals at the Universal dock along Lakeshore Drive, the owner of the dock, the Grain Farmers of Ontario, and South Dundas’ planning department, were all on the agenda for the meeting, to make presentations, but a lawyer’s letter presented to council by the initial delegation of concerned citizens put an end to any potential council or staff input, feedback or questions.

So, each group was given about 10 minutes to make their planned presentation, and did so. 

An estimated crowd of about 150 had gathered to watch the proceedings.

Chris Rowntree, spoke on behalf of the citizens group, saying that allowing the grain terminal to be built on this land does not conform with its light industrial zoning. And that allowing it under the guise of calling it a warehouse is indefensible in a court of law.

He then had Gerben Schaillee, who is part of the concerned citizens group, read aloud a letter from the group’s lawyer, Donald R. Good of AGB Lawyers in Ottawa.

Good maintains that classifying a grain terminal as a grain warehouse is erroneous.

“This appears to be a deliberate misuse of the word ‘warehouse’ to simply avoid  the proper re-zoning process which would allow public input into the addition of this new permitted use in the M1 zone,” said Good.

“To proceed to issue a building permit, will subject the Township to potentially expensive litigation,” said Good. “I encourage the Township to reconsider its position and not issue a building permit until the property has been properly vetted through the re-zoning process.”

Following Rowntree and Schaillee, Tom Kaneb, owner of UTI made a presentation. 

He noted that  these lands have been industrial since prior to 1967, pre-dating some of the neighbouring homes and many of their current owners. 

“The tension that we have here is often felt when residential areas expand close to older industrial areas,” said Kaneb. “We know that we need to try and reach an accommodation.”

“We are designing into the project modern dust controls and low noise aeration fans to minimize dust and noise,” he added.

Kaneb spoke of the local economic benefit to farmers and to South Dundas and to the support that the project has from area farmers.

“We intend to proceed with the support of the community and will do our best to meet all laws, regulations and zoning requirements,” said Kaneb.

Again, because of the legal involvement brought on by the concerned citizens group, council did not question or comment on the matter.

Following Kaneb’s presentation, Grain Farmers of Ontario delegate Warren Schneckenburger, told of the need and importance of this new terminal in South Dundas.

“We are fortunate here to have two end users, Ingredion (formerly Casco) and Greenfield Ethanol, but their maximum capacity has been realized,” said Schneckenburger. He explained that the result is a reliance on the Port of Prescott, which fills very rapidly in the fall.

“This issue is bigger than South Dundas,” said Schneckenburger, pointing out that grain regularly flows to this area from a much larger region regularly coming from about 5,200 producers.

Once again, South Dundas council refrained from questioning or commenting on the presentation.

Included in council’s information package was a key information report from Donald Lewis, manager of planing and enforcement, regarding the status of the status of the project.

Council did not allow Lewis to speak to the report.

According to the report, a peer review with planning consultants has confirmed that the grain terminal proposal meets zoning requirements and currently staff are in the process of determining if all applicable laws have been satisfied.

The proponent has secured the required County Road setback permit, and have sufficiently addressed truck traffic concerns. 

In its current form, the proposal does not require any South Nation Conservation permits. 

Ministry of the Environment staff are in the process of reviewing the application.

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