Egg plant growth gobbles residential area
STRATHROY - Growth for a long-time Strathroy business is often something to be celebrated. But in a time of housing shortages and with a location among residential homes, this industrial omelette may have to crack a few zoning eggs.
Burnbrae Farms Strathroy egg sorting facility on Ellor Street is working with municipal staff to find a solution to its parking space shortage and need for temporary foreign worker housing.
A problem for neighbours is that parking already started on property not zoned for it. Renovations on a house next to the egg plant has also already started without the proper zoning definition to house up to 14 workers. But Burnbrae did get a permit to do the renovations from the municipality.
The solution for the parking would be to get it M1 light industrial zoning that matches what the company is already doing: parking up to 40 worker passenger vehicles and six refrigerated transport trucks. Its current low density residential zoning on the large lot only allows three parking spots.
“In other words, it’s already there and they’re asking for permission for that moving forward,” explained senior planner Tim Williams at the Feb. 21 council meeting.
The temporary foreign worker housing is a little tricker for staff, who have started to write something up based on similar agricultural lodging. Zoning cannot be specific to people ie foreign workers because it is against the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Andrea Miller is a registered professional planner and agent for Burnbrae . She explained how there are not enough local workers.
“And that is the situation that Burnbrae is dealing with not only here in your community, but in communities across the country. And other industries are dealing with (it). And so in order to keep the business viable, they need to fill vacancies, and the Temporary Foreign Worker program is as I understand it a two-year program where workers would be here for two years,” explained Miller.
Allan Linker said he has lived nearby on Ellor Street for 36 years.
“Once we go ahead and allow this, we can never take it back,” he warned council.
Coun. John Brennan suggested they try to help find a new location with more space. He also said this was an example of how long-term decisions by councils come back to, “bite future councils really hard, because we’re being asked to make some very difficult decisions about circumstances that we had absolutely nothing to do with in creating.”
Chris Gareau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner