It was a resounding “no” from the dozens of residents in Guelph-Eramosa Township who showed up to a special council meeting on Wednesday to hear a proposal on a massive $450-million float glass plant in their community.
Xinyi Glass Canada Ltd. is looking at a 2-million-square-foot facility at the corner of Wellington roads 124 and 32.
Their hope is to have it built by the end of 2019 and have it operational by early 2020, but many residents are trying to pump the brakes on the project.
“This thing is a behemoth, really it’s a joke,” said Ed Kennedy, who has lived in the township for over 30 years. “As far as I’m concerned, it is an assault on the character of this section of the township.”
The facility would operate year-round, 24 hours a day and only shut down once every 12 to 15 years for maintenance. The goal is to employ about 400 people.
Xinyi has been eyeing this piece of land for months, but the township only received the proposal to amend some bylaws in early April that would allow them to increase the height of their main building to 22 metres, build an on-site residence for upwards of 50 staff and have only interior loading bays.
Many residents took issue with the dormitory on-site and some worried about the working and living conditions.
“I’m boggled that we are considering adding dormitories to an industrial site,” said Suzie Diamond. “We have the infrastructure to support having folks come in and stay here, to do the work take part in our community resources.”
Besides the amendments, residents were against the idea of Xinyi taking 1.6 million litres of water per day from wells in the area.
Most of that would be used in the cooling process for the glass and then evaporated or recycled, according to officials with Xinyi.
Even though they were told by Xinyi consultants that those levels were below the Ministry of Environment’s standards for a “dry industrial facility,” residents in the immediate area were worried about their own wells going dry.
“The idea of characterizing this as a dry industrial process, while technically it is possibly true, is completely a red herring. It is really quite disrespectful,” said a woman whose property on Fife Road backs on to the site.
Other concerns revolved around the emissions, safety and the increased traffic in the area.
Township Mayor Chris White said he wants to see those addressed too.
“There’s core issues,” he said. “They’re all there and they need to be explained fully, and this is the beginning of the process where we try to do that.”
A decision on whether to approve the bylaw amendments was not made during Wednesday’s meeting.
A second meeting will be scheduled when a more detailed plan is presented that is expected to include how the development will meet all provincial, county and township requirements, including reports on traffic, water use, engineering and noise.
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