September 24, 2023
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Residents Upset as Ontario Government Introduces Legislation for Heavy Industry Zoning Near St. Thomas Homes

A group of homeowners in St. Thomas, Ontario, is expressing their frustration and disappointment following the introduction of legislation by the Ontario government that would create new zoning for heavy industry near their rural properties. Bill 63, also known as the St. Thomas-Central Elgin Boundary Adjustment Act, was introduced to the legislature by Ontario Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark on February 22.

The proposed legislation would permit the City of St. Thomas to annex approximately 1,500 acres of prime farmland, which is located between Talbot Line and Yarmouth Centre Road, from the Municipality of Central Elgin. If passed, this boundary change would establish an “investment-ready mega site,” according to the municipality. Central Elgin expressed its disappointment with the boundary change, stating that it was made without consultation by the province.

The homeowners in the affected area claim that they were also not consulted by the provincial government regarding this significant development. Annette Weesjes, one of the homeowners, expressed concern about the lack of transparency and the potential impact of major industrial activities near their homes. Rumors have circulated about the type of industries that could be established, including a battery plant and food processing, but the exact plans have not been disclosed.

St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston acknowledged that there had been a lack of consultation with the residents and the municipality. He stated that the decision to annex the land and attract potential investors came from Queen’s Park. Mayor Preston indicated that the province wanted to consolidate the industrial site within one municipality for the convenience of the investors, resulting in St. Thomas being selected.

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The residents are troubled by the prospect of transforming the current farmland into a bustling industrial area with increased noise, traffic, and truck activity. They feel that their close-knit rural community will be forever altered by the planned development.