More than 20 County of Brant residents registered to speak about a proposed industrial development during the Planning and Development Committee meeting on Tuesday, February 1.
The application proposes to rezone the land at 282 Highway 5, St. George from agricultural to light industrial. The proposed development would see two industrial buildings built on the land, with a total floor area in excess of 120,000 square metres of warehouse space and accessory office use. The project is said to create 200-500 new jobs in the county.
While the project is still in the early stages of the application process, council members heard from more than 20 St. George residents expressing their concerns about the proposal.
Some of the most common concerns that residents raised at the meeting included traffic, noise and light pollution, decreased value in surrounding properties and safety.
“We have issues now with the traffic on Highway 5, without having 200 trucks coming and going every day,” Shirley Marion said, who lives adjacent to the proposed development. “We’re concerned about the safety of children on the street. There are several school bus stops along this road and the increased traffic just raises a big concern. Just because you can put it here, doesn’t mean it belongs here.”
While traffic was the most discussed topic among residents, others raised questions about how the new development would affect the value of their homes.
Howard Hussey Sr. said that he has been living in his home, which backs onto the land at 282 Highway 5, for 32 years and is strongly opposed to the project.
“According to real estate people that I have spoken with, this could drop the value of our property some five to ten per cent, or as high as 25 per cent,” he said. “St. George has historical value and I think that will go right out the door with this.”
In addition to the number of residents that shared their concerns, council members also raised questions about the details of the project.
“The way that this is located doesn’t really meet our minimum standards regarding job creations per hectare,” Councillor John MacAlpine said. “”I am under the impression that it is about half of the minimum amount that we are proposing under our new official plan. I would also hope that this would have at least two entrances and exits to mitigate a lot of the traffic going through because St. George relates to the problems with traffic on Highway 24.”
While the proposal was received as information, the applicants have a long process before any decisions are made. Developers have offered to host more public meetings through the process to answer questions and concerns that residents may have.
Before accepting the proposal as information, council acknowledged the engagement from community members, stating that they could not remember a meeting where they received so much feedback.