Concerns raised over proposed $450 million glass plant in Guelph-Eramosa

A proposal to build a massive glass plant outside of Guelph is not sitting well with a group who says there is not enough information for the local council to make decisions on bylaw amendments.

Xinyi Glass Canada Ltd. wants to build a two million square-foot facility at Wellington roads 124 and 32 in Guelph-Eramosa Township, just west of the city of Guelph.

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The cost is pegged at $450 million and the hope is it will be in operation by early 2020.

On Wednesday night, representatives from Xinyi will submit their proposal to the township’s council and ask for several bylaws to be amended that would permit, among other things, taller buildings and a residence on site for some staff.

A group called “GET Concerned” is worried that the township council is rushing into a decision without enough information.

“The number of consultants and agencies who have said in that report that they do not have enough information is significant enough that that alone should stop this from going any further until all the information is gathered,” said Susan McSherry with GET Concerned.

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Consulting group R.J. Burnside and Associates echoed McSherry’s concerns in an email to the township’s planning administrator that was included in the report going to council.

“We cannot support the site-specific zoning provisions proposed until additional technical investigation technical supporting documents be provided to support the increase in lot coverage and the use of accessory dwelling units directly associated with the operation of the manufacturing facility,” said Jackie Kay, a municipal engineer with R.J. Burnside, in the letter.

Xinyi said the residence would be considered temporary and house about 50 employees who would provide training for permanent staff. It would also house first responders on-site.

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The Mayor of Guelph-Eramosa, Chris White, said he also has some concerns about that.

“The dormitory on site, that’s different. There’s no doubt about that. There’s no doubt that it’s controversial,” White said. “They’ve built eight of these plants in Asia, so they’re not new to this, but they’ve got a different model than we’re used to.”

Other issues revolve around the environment, specifically water protection and air quality, as the plant will have a 300-foot emissions stack towering over it.

Xinyi has said that 1.6 million litres of water will be drawn from wells in the area and be used in the cooling system, but stressed the water will not be released back into the aquifer. Instead, it’ll either be evaporated through the emissions stack or recycled in the plant.

White said all of the environmental concerns will have to be addressed before council finally signs off on the project and the amendments that come with it.

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“We have to find out, Does this meet the provincial targets?” he explained. “The fact that somebody has asked for something doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. But this is what they’re looking for and we have to take it through the proper processes.”

The council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Marden Community Centre.

A decision is not expected until a later date and after Xinyi submits a site plan application that demonstrates how the development can meet all requirements from the province, Wellington County and the township.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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