A September 16 letter distributed to residents in the vicinity of the Universal dock indicates that changes have been made to the proposal to build an export grain terminal at the UTI site.
The proposal has been modified to locate the proposed 105’ diameter by 90’ tall grain bins, that were met with much disapproval from area residents, on UTI property, north of County Road 4 (Lakeshore Drive), rather than on the south side as originally proposed.
According to the letter, the proposed location is on the east side of the property approximately 120 meters east of the north/south internal access road that exists on the UTI site today.
“The grain bins will be aligned in a south to north configuration so that only lone bin is located close to Lakeshore and the second and possible expansion of bins are located to the north of the first bin,” say project proponents Tom Kaneb and Ben Currelly.
The proposal includes an enclosed conveyor over Lakeshore Drive to move grain from the bins on the north of the road to the south east end of the dock. A portable conveyor and ship loading stacker will be used when ships are loaded or unloaded.
According to Kaneb, “We have proposed locating the grain bins and truck area on the north side of Lakeshore to minimize the impact on the view of the St. Lawrence River from Lakeshore Road, to minimize the impact on the view of the neighbours, and to not have trucks cross Lakeshore.”
“Ontario farmers are expecting another bumper crop of soy beans and corn, emphasizing the need for an export terminal that will enable area farmers to access global markets effectively,” said Kaneb.
“Construction must await the acquisition of the required permits,” he added. “We are in the midst of that process now.”
Asked what these changes mean to the concerned citizens group opposed to this project, Gerben Schaillee, a member of the group says, “It really changes nothing. The zoning is incorrect.”
Lesley Rowntree, who is also part of the concerned citizens group, said the group has discussed the recent changes to the proposal. “The consensus is, it doesn’t change the illegality of putting a grain terminal on land that is zoned for light industrial use.” She said that though the changes would be better, visually for the area, any discussion of the impact is purely hypothetical.
“Yes, if the proposal was legal, it would be marginally better,” said Rowntree.
According to Rowntree, this project, if allowed to go ahead, would negatively impact more than just residents in the vicinity of the dock. She mentioned the Lakeshore Drive is part of the Waterfront Trail, which brings those in the booming cycling tourism industry to the area. She also said that the impact of increased truck traffic would be felt much farther out than the immediate area of the UTI property.
“This whole scheme is of little advantage to anyone in South Dundas,” according to Rowntree. “It would only result in a couple of jobs, the Waterfront Trail would be ruined and noisy trucks would be travelling through our rural towns. This transforms the entire nature of the area.”
She concedes that farmers may benefit, but sees expansion of the port at Prescott, as a more appropriate alternative, since the government has already subsidized that port with Canadian tax dollars.
Should South Dundas choose to issue a building permit for the proposed development in its new location, the threat of litigation by the concerned citizens group still stands.
Despite her opposition to the project, Rowntree is thankful that Kaneb has been so open with area residents about the details of this proposed project.
Grain terminal proponents have been in contact with the municipality regarding the new site plan. “They still have to satisfy applicable law to obtain a building permit,” said South Dundas chief administrative officer Steve McDonald. He is unsure of the current status of the application for this new location.