Ontario Grain Terminal proposal-Council hears it from both sides

It didn’t take long for the nearly two year old Ontario Grain Terminal issue to land on the table of the newly elected South Dundas council.

December 16, at the first regular meeting of council, among the first delegations to make presentations to council were the concerned citizens of South Dundas who have long opposed the grain terminal proposed by Norag Commodities for the industrial UTI property of Tom Kaneb, located along Lakeshore Drive. 

Immediately following that presentation was a presentation by those who are in favour of the development. 

Both sides of the issue had different spokespeople making their presentations. 

The concerned citizens presentation was by Linda Nowicki, one time South Dundas resident and former mayor of Wawa, Ontario, who plans to return here as a full time resident.

The Ontario Grain Terminal presentation of support was prepared and delivered by former South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds of Bycrest Farms, a 1,000 acre cash crop operation and Warren Schneckenburger of Cedar Lodge Farms, a 3,000 acre cash crop farming operation.

The South Dundas council chamber was filled with over 80 residents, about half from area farming operations, with an interest in the issue.

South Dundas mayor Evonne Delegarde read a statement explaining that there would be no questions or discussion on the matter at the table since it has become a legal matter.

Nowicki urged council to officially take a position on the issue. 

“To date, council of the township of South Dundas has been silent on the matter. There has been no public official endorsement of the proposal by way of resolution, debate or a vote at a public meeting of council,” she said. 

She added that the chief building official is not the one who should be deciding which expert opinion is the most valid. “He is not a planning expert and does not have the authority to decide which report carries the most weight. That is up to council.”

“We are seeking an honest and open process whereby the costs/benefits of the grain terminal proposal will be thoroughly analyzed, discussed in public, and decided in accordance with established municipal council responsibilities, planning principles and zoning requirements applicable in Ontario. We appeal to you to recognize the authority that you have as a council and exercise that authority,” concluded Nowicki.

“South Dundas needs economic  development,” said Steven Byvelds who is in favour of the OGT project.

“South Dundas cannot afford to turn down any new development, especially one with the potential this project has. If council stops this project, it will send a signal to other potential developers that South Dundas is not open for business and they will go where they are welcome, like North Dundas and South Stormont.”

Farmers are unified in their support of the $6 million project, having letters of support from the Dundas Federation of Agriculture, Dundas Soil and Crop Improvement Association, District 14 Grain Farmers of Ontario and the Grain Farmers of Ontario. 

The project would open up a new local market for producers across the region as there are presently no significant end users for soybeans or wheat in the vicinity like there are for corn (Ingredion, Greenfield). 

“One ship replaces 625 trucks going further downstream to Montreal or Sorel,” said Schneckenburger, adding that the terminal is a clean land use. They urged council to allow the project to move forward and to issue a building permit.

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