STRATFORD — Xinyi Glass Holdings Limited is once again trying to build a large float glass plant in Ontario — this time in Stratford.
The plant was first proposed to be built just outside Guelph. In 2018, Guelph Eramosa Township council voted against building the plant, with the most prominent concern being the amount of water required.
Since 2018, Dan Mathieson, mayor of Stratford requested the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for a ministerial zoning order to convert a parcel of land next to an industrial park from agricultural to industrial.
A ministerial zoning order was filed in July 2020 ordering the land to be used exclusively for a float glass producing facility.
Stratford residents organized a rally this week protesting the proposal and the use of the ministerial zoning order to push the deal through with minimal public input.
The plant is expected to invest 400 million dollars to build the plant, pay three million dollars in property taxes annually and provide over 300 jobs, according to Chris Pidgeon, president of GSP Group, the Kitchener-based consulting firm helping Xinyi find a location for its plant.
“Xinyi wants to be able to supply the Canadian market with float glass, rather than importing all float glass from abroad. Currently, there are no float glass manufacturers in Canada, and we are 100% reliant on importation of glass,” he said in an email to The Record.
Float glass is a method of making large sheets of glass used for items like car windshields and windows involving floating liquid glass on a bath of liquid tin. The process requires heating the materials to temperatures of 1,600 degrees Celsius.
An online meeting was held last week to answer the public’s questions about issues like water usage.
The plant is expected to use 2.5 million litres of water per day at peak use, bringing Stratford’s total water usage up to 38.6 per cent of its supply, according to Pidgeon.
Citizens are waiting to hear more about the proposed cost sharing agreement between the city and the company, as well as more on how public input will be facilitated.
“I think our concerns are stemming from the fact that local democracy should mean an opportunity for public participation and not MZOs being granted to circumvent the planning act,” said Melissa Verspeeten, a spokesperson for Get Concerned Stratford, a citizens’ group raising questions about the project.
Xinyi Glass agreed to build its North American headquarters in Ontario after a 2017 Ontario trade mission to China.
Leah Gerber’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. The funding allows her to report on stories about the Grand River Watershed. Email email@example.com
Leah Gerber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Waterloo Region Record