By Adam Brazeau
S,D&G- South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds is not willing to give up all 400 acres of employment lands without a fight, or least a compromise.
© Adam Brazeau
South Stormont mayor Bryan McGillis (left) discusses the potential for a 260-hectare development in Long Sault with South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds. It was an important matter to both mayors. Due to recommendations by the ministry, Byvelds is forced to give up 161.8 acres of land to make it happen. Pictured (middle) South Stormont deputy mayor Tammy Hart.
At a counties council meeting this week, Byvelds had his back up after a request to provide 161.8 hectares of South Dundas property to be used as so-called "employment lands" - parcels that could be developed to provide businesses and other opportunities to bolster local jobs.
The move is being requested by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH).
“I want to make sure everything is done right and fair in the end,” said Byvelds. “Some land truly is Provincially Significant Wetlands (PSWs) and would be difficult to develop along the 401.”
The redesignation of vacant lands falls in South Stormont mayor Bryan McGillis’ municipality too. All together a proposed site in Long Sault will occupy 260 hectares. In fact all six municipalities within the United Counties is being asked to provide property.
“We shouldn’t be comparing what municipality has the best employment lands, it’s about what’s best for S,D&G and Cornwall,” said McGillis. “We’re talking jobs.”
McGillis and South Stormont deputy mayor Tammy Hart said the matter is a chance for municipalities to work together. At council, McGillis wondered if Byvelds was letting the gap municipalities shared in potential reductions of vacant employments lands stifle his point of view.
“I’m not taking it personal,” said Byvelds.
But the South Dundas mayor felt his residents might, especially if all 161.8 hectares are given up.
“They would not be happy, there’s a lot of hard feelings from losing the former DuPont land,” said Byvelds.
The proposed site in Long Sault is located between the Canadian National Railway (CN) mainline and Highway 401 between Moulinette Road and County Road 15. The site has access to Highway 401 and the CN mainline. It also has full municipal sewer and water services, as well as available servicing capacity.
Byvelds said the site has “potential.” His concern is directed to the loss of employment lands in his own municipality.
Members of council felt the ministry’s decision was pinning the municipalities against one another. McGillis firmly disagreed.
“Their intent is for us to make a decision on lands available and their potential,” he said.