Tuesday, July 21, 2020


O.K. so I had my meeting with Woolwich's head of the planning department yesterday afternoon. Mr. Jeremy Vink, in my opinion, went out of his way to be informative and to clarify the rationale behind the decision for Woolwich to go eastwards for future industrial/commercial expansion of "employment lands". I would describe Mr. Vink as polite, courteous and respectful. I would also suggest that he is a personable young man and frankly I was positively impressed throughout our discussion. All that being said, recall that my impressions here today are based upon my time spent talking with him yesterday. If any other Woolwich citizens have had negative experiences with Mr. Vink, I am in no position to dispute them. Also a second hand impression I previously had of Mr. Vink in relation to asbestos waterpipes in Elmira was less flattering of him. Overall I do feel now that there is some legitimate rationale for putting Elmira's further industrial/commercial expansion on the east side of Elmira despite agricultural land being taken out of production and despite the huge issue of persistent organic pollutants (DDT, dioxins/furans, lindane etc.) likely in the soils in the floodplain of the Canagagigue Creek, on the Stroh farm at a minimum.

Mr. Vink spoke of issues involved when residential zoning is next to industrial zoning. Here in Elmira we are much too familiar with the horrible years of 1998-2001 when Uniroyal Chemical was stinking out Elmira and especially Duke St. Prior to that was years of Uniroyal's stench wafting downtown on the occasions when the prevailing west to east winds were reversed. Hence Mr. Vink suggested that putting future industrial /employment lands next to residential subdivisions on the north, west or even beside the new south end residential developments was not good planning. He also pointed out that while there was the Canagagigue Creek to deal with on the east side of town there were also creeks in the north end (Larch's Creek) as well as in the south end. I don't know the name of the creek in the south end but going south on Arthur St. while leaving town one can see where they go under the road in two locations. All fair enough.

I had pressed both Mr. Welwood of the Region of Waterloo and Mr. Vink (Woolwich) for cost estimates of providing municipal services on the east side of town versus the north, south or west. I did this based upon repeated and multiple references in a number of Regional (& likely Woolwich as well) documents strongly promoting the east side expansion due to the more efficient and cost effective provision of municipal services on the east side. Well that certainly strongly suggests that a cost benefit analysis of some sort was done. In fact absolutely no costs have been provided by either the Region or the Township to me or to at least one other party who so requested. There is no getting around that major blunder/omission. If our governing authorities think that it is O.K. to gild the lily with additional "reasons" for a decision then they need to back it up. Informal, back of the envelope, estimates just don't cut it.

There is one more unfortunately legitimate reason why I suspect that industrial/commercial expansion is going eastwards. That is due to the utter failure over the past fourty years of the Ontario Ministry of Environment to fulfill their duty and mandate to protect Elmira citizens from the worst scourges of heavy industry. This includes toxic air pollution, destruction of our drinking water and of our creek (the "Gig"), and the failure to clean up our drinking water by the mandated deadline. Hence if industry was expanded on the primarily upwind side of town, even more residents would learn the hard way that the MOE/MECP are paper tigers.

Last but not least is the now proven contamination by Uniroyal Chemical and token "cleanup" of the Stroh farm. The major areas of surface water flow from the east side Uniroyal pits onto the Stroh property have been studiously ignored and to this day remain unsampled and untested. I was advised by Mr. Vink of future either EIS (Environmental Impact Statements) or EA (Environmental Assessments) being required prior to construction of the Elmira By-Pass or of the municipality approving development plans in the new east side expansion area. This is much too little much too late. For over thirty years now the MOE/MECP in conjunction with Uniroyal/Crompton/Chemtura/Lanxess have successfully bullfrittered, bafflegabbed, and DELAYED while the toxins leak off site and spread under Elmira, downstream and into the air. Every year that goes by reduces the volume on the now Lanxess site and reduces their cleanup costs by transferring those costs, both monetary and health, onto citizens/taxpayers, wildlife and the environment. As the title above states, this east side development is "Putting The Cart Before The Horse". Clean up first, then consider development and the long promised Elmira truck By-Pass.

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