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Title - The View from Dundas
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Take development good with the bad
By Phillip Blancher
OurHometown.ca

Take development good with the bad
Economic development is needed for communities in Eastern Ontario, regardless of size. With aging populations, an industrial base in flux, growing retail competition, all of these are factors that makes development growth essential just to sustain what we have. With every action, there are people or groups for or against it. Sometimes people have to step back, look at the development and take the good with the bad. Looking in at South Dundas, there are two developments that people need to step back and look at.
PHOTO CREDIT - Isabell Blancher

South Dundas - August 8, 2013 - Economic development is needed for communities in Eastern Ontario, regardless of size. With aging populations, an industrial base in flux, growing retail competition, all of these are factors that makes development growth essential just to sustain what we have. With every action, there are people or groups for or against it. Sometimes people have to step back, look at the development and take the good with the bad. Looking in at South Dundas, there are two developments that people need to step back and look at.

South Branch Wind Farm
The Ontario Green Energy act is one of the worst pieces of legislation enacted by the McGuinty Liberals during their reign in power at Queens Park. The fact that the current Premier, Kathleen Wynne, has not cancelled the legislation will ensure that no one in rural Ontario will vote for her. The legislation is oppressive, stripping landowner rights away, stripping away the rights for municipalities to say no to wind farms and solar farms. The legislation is expensive, costing Ontarians billions for an electrical generation option that currently produces less than one per cent of all of the electricity required. However, until the Liberals are removed from power, they are here to stay and keep popping up on the landscape like a bad weed, which brings us to the South Branch Wind Farm.

For a few years since it was announced, land owners in the north-end of South Dundas have fought hard to get the proposed wind farm cancelled. Starting this fall likely, there will be 10 to 14 turbines spoiling the farm land. That's the bad. The good part is that in all of this, the county and the turbine company have to agree on a fee for hauling these over-sized fans over county roads. The fee is in the millions. Yes, we end up paying for it as the electricity will be bought by us, but at least some money flows back in from it. That money will be used to help fix the roads. The other good is hopefully when the Liberals are eventually replaced or at least the Green Energy act repealed, there will be some local scrap metal dealers happy with their new haul.

Grain Bins for South Dundas
The fight continues over the plan to place up to four grain bins on riverfront industrial property between Iroquois and Morrisburg. This land, which has been used for industrial purposed for 50-plus years and was home to an oil storage tank farm, would see the bins be used for storage of local farmer's crops awaiting shipment. The land has on it a deep water dock which enables ships on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway to load and unload from the facility. Residents are concerned of having these large bins there citing explosion concerns, increased road traffic, smell and dust.

Its good for residents to be concerned, but there is a problem, which this writer has pointed out before but it bears repeating. Most of the houses adjacent to the Universal Terminals facilities, were built after the oil tank farm was built. If oil tanks possibly exploding or spilling were not a concern of the home owner locating to the area, why is crop storage now? Land owners in the area should really just call a spade a spade and say that they don't want bright silver bins located on the waterfront, period. Never mind the large, gleaming white salt pile stored on the dock there nine months of the year.

So that's the bad, but what is the good out of this development? Local farmers are able to save on transportation costs to get their grain to market. Farming is still a very large sector of economic activity in South Dundas. It will create a couple of jobs, plus bring construction workers into the area to build the facility. That's more economic development. It using land that is underused, which means no new land will be cleared, or farm land taken out of production. Lastly it could be the start of further development to that economic zone.

Adjacent to the Universal Terminals property is the former Locke Truss manufacturing plant, last home to a company that made prefab houses for northern communities. About 50 acres of property sitting unused since 2011, for sale and ready for development. The UTI property itself is slightly smaller in size, and only has one oil tank left. The other tanks were torn down in the last decade.

The property is very underused and owned by a family that has some deep pockets. The family, the Kanebs, also own the former Canada Cottons Mill in Cornwall, which is being developed into condos, offices and other facilities along the St. Lawrence. A lot of money is being generated from that development, and it needs to go somewhere.

If the residents are successful in blocking the grain bins, what could the land be used for? Solid waste storage? Recycled paper storage? Perhaps Alberta Oil Sands storage and shipping? After all, the Trans-Canada pipeline that is being proposed to move Alberta bitumen to the East Coast will come through this area. Perhaps shipping by the Seaway is the best solution and look, there is a deep-water dock.

Compared to Oil Sands or Bio-waste storage, grain bins look like a no brainer. So take the bad with the good. The bad is that the residents in the surrounding area may not like four shiny tubs on the waterfront. The good is that it spurs economic development. If there are grain bins, there likely would not be oil or waste storage. That means that other development to this zone would be light industrial manufacturing or shipping. That means that businesses, including the UTI property, would be paying property taxes on the development, water fees, construction permit fees. All those fees, add up to residential taxes not having to go up as much.

Something all residents can appreciate, no matter how close to the grain bins you live.

Follow Me on TwitterPhillip Blancher is a writer, web geek and communications professional by trade. He has written for a number of publications in Eastern Ontario and Northern New York State and also was a weekly morning show contributor for two area radio stations. As a resident of South Dundas for the last seven years, this long-time political buff has taken on an appreciation of small-town/rural life while also being a father of four and a soccer coach. Blancher's columns on OurHometown.ca will cover a range of his interests from politics, parenthood, local history and on his favourite NHL team, the Buffalo Sabres. If you have questions or wish to contact Phillip, you can email him at pblancher@ourhometown.ca






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