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Municipal 2018
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Group accuses township of withholding information on proposed Xinyi glass plant

by Jaime Myslik

GUELPH-ERAMOSA - Citizen group GET concerned is accusing Guelph-Eramosa Township of withholding information regarding the proposed Xinyi Canada Glass Limited float glass plant at Wellington Road 32 and 124.

Yet Guelph-Eramosa CAO Ian Roger said the township has followed standard practice in all aspects of the application.

Xinyi is proposing a two-million-square-foot float glass plant on land zoned rural industrial (M1). The company is requesting five zoning bylaw amendments:

- allowing accessory dwelling units on the site;

- permitting less parking than required;

- not requiring loading spaces;

- increasing the main building height from 15m (about four storeys) to 22.5m (about seven storeys); and

- increasing the maximum lot coverage from 40 to 50%.

GET concerned was formed as a way for citizens to oppose the plant’s development.

Member Susan McSherry told the Advertiser the group came upon a May 9 letter about Xinyi sent to Roger from Guelph CAO Derrik Thomson in a City of Guelph council meeting agenda.  

It was “a real surprise since GET concerned had been asking both the mayor and CAO of Guelph-Eramosa Township if the city had any concerns or had been involved ... in any consideration or discussions about the proposed Xinyi float glass plant development and neither had indicated that they had heard anything,” McSherry said.

The letter, a submission for Guelph-Eramosa’s May 9 public meeting about Xinyi’s bylaw amendment application, outlines the city’s concerns about the glass plant.

Thomson said Guelph is concerned about the proposed 1.4 million litres of water per day the plant is proposing to draw.

“The Xinyi glass plant has the potential to impact the city’s water supply,” he wrote, noting Guelph and Guelph-Eramosa, working in partnership with Wellington County and the Grand River Conservation Area, “have completed a Tier 3 Water Budget and Local Area Risk Assessment.”

Thomson continued, “This project has defined a wellhead protection area for water quantity that surrounds the city, extending into [Guelph-Eramosa] and includes the proposed location for the Xinyi plant.

“Any new water takings within this area would be considered a significant drinking water threat and present a potential risk to the city’s water supply system.”

Roger acknowledged the township received feedback and comments prior to, during and following the May 9 public meeting and it wasn’t until June that staff compiled everything to give to council.

“They’re all comments that go for the planning report when a recommendation does come forward,” he explained.

“So we had the clerk’s department circulate ... June  6 all of the comments we had received to that date for council’s information so they had an idea what had come in to that point.

“We’ve had some more since then that haven’t gone to council and all will be part of the planning report when it’s prepared.”

This is the standard practice, Roger stressed. In fact, he said on smaller applications council often doesn’t receive comments from public meetings until a complete package is compiled as part of the final report.

The person, group or organization providing the comments or letters has no bearing on the procedure, he added.

“All comments received are considered whether it comes from a city, one of the local residents, federal or provincial ministry - all of the comments go together for coordination in the report,” Roger said.

However, withholding Guelph’s letter was “incomprehensible,” according to McSherry.

“That letter alone, absolutely and categorically, addresses every issue that GET concerned has raised with our own council concerning the project and the [township] ... made no reference to it, did not bring it up, did not inform the council, did not inform anybody asking information about this, and have indicated that nobody saw this until June 6,” she said.

“To hear that any consideration of a huge development project would not be even approached as reading any correspondence related to this or responding to the City of Guelph CAO’s letter, which was dated May 9, is incomprehensible.

“That is not good governance.”

Roger said normally correspondence in response to an application like Xinyi’s would be made available to the public when the planning report is presented to council.

When that will happen is not yet known, though the township is planning another information meeting, Roger said.

“We’ve had some follow-up meetings with Xinyi and their consultants and they’re busy trying to pull together all of the information that was discussed and the questions that were raised at the May 9 meeting,” Roger said.

“So they’re working on that at this point. We don’t have the follow-up reports so there hasn’t been any date set yet for the next information meeting.”

At that time Roger said concerns about the “dry-industrial” designation for the land should be addressed.

“All of the existing industries out there take water now and I guess that’s something that will be discussed further and explained in the planning report to council - how this would or would not be considered a dry use,” he said.

Councillor David Wolk introduced a notice of motion  at the June 25 Guelph-Eramosa council meeting calling on council to “refuse the application by Xinyi Canada Glass Limited under comprehensive zoning bylaw ... rural industrial (M1) since the requirement for ‘dry use’ is not met in the current application.”

The motion will likely be discussed on July 16 at Parkwood Gardens in Guelph.

Roger said there would not be any planning report presented at that meeting.

“His motion was quite clear and that’s strictly what council will be discussing on that date,” Roger said.

July 13, 2018


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