Fearman pork has long term plans for growth in Burlington - mobility hub plans create some 'land use issues'.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 10th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

We don’t often get a glimpse at how the larger corporate interests approach the city when they want their interests done “offline” as they say.

Early in December, George Wilson delegated at a city council workshop on the four Mobility Hubs the city is going to use as major focal points for commercial development. Wilson was interested in what the city planned for the Appleby Line GO station hub.

Appleby GO mobility hib study areaWilson is a vice president at Sofina Foods; they are the corporate group that now owns Fearmans Pork Inc., which they acquired in 2012

Fearmans gets in the news when the animal rights people protest over the conditions that pigs are transported to the pork processing plant on Harvester Road at Appleby Line.

Wilson was delegating about Sofina concerns about “land use conflicts”. Before he got to those concerns he trotted out all kinds of information including a lot about how good a community partner they are and they do raise a tonne of money

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When the Premier wears an apron with your corporate name on it – you matter.

They support almost every group you can name; the big ones; Ronald MacDonald House, The Dream Builders and a number of the smaller organizations – food banks particularly.

Wilson said the company has raised $4 million; they hold an annual golf classic and contribute significant amounts to the community.

The Fearmans plant employs 1,000 people at full time, 40 hours a week jobs.

50% of hog processing in Ontario is done at the Fearman plant. 11% of all hog processing in Canada is done at the plant. 1350 family farms within a three hour radius of the plant transport pigs to the plant.

5.3million hogs are processed at the plant.

60% of the pork processed in Canada is exported.

This is clearly a major Burlington corporation.

Wilson wanted city council to know that they are in Burlington for the long haul – they have plans to grow. He used phrases like “unlimited growth”, “plans for major investment”

Councillor Dennison wanted to know if the “guests” were a problem to their growth plans. Wilson didn’t understand the question until someone explained that he was referring to the protesters. Wilson responded by saying that “everyone was entitled to their opinion and that Fearmans has government inspectors on the site full time”, no the protesters were not a problem.

Appleby Preferred concept - land useThe problem was “land use conflicts” which Wilson didn’t want to say very much about. Mayor Goldring and Councillor Taylor asked pretty mild questions – hoping to learn a bit more about just what those land use conflicts were. Wilson kept dodging the question – he clearly didn’t want to talk in a public forum.

Meed Ward H&S

Councillor Meed Ward – asking the question no one else cared all that much about – discussing public issues in public.

It was Councillor Meed Ward who reminded Wilson that the use of land is a public matter and that sooner or later what Sofia wants done with the land around the Fearman plant becomes public.

“I understand your desire to have further conversations offline however we have to do our work in public”  She added that sooner or later what Sofina wants will come before a public city council meeting.

The Workshop Chair, Councillor Sharman solved the talking in public matter by telling Wilson that later in the meeting he would talk to staff about how Wilson and the planners could meet and work out those “land uses conflict” issues.

Wilson did say that Sofia had some ideas they wanted to talk about and that the company wanted to collaborate with the city.

Meed Ward seemed to be hoping that Wilson would set out the concerns – the company clearly wants to expand and they plan to be in Burlington for a long time.

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Taylor wanted to know the life span of the existing Fearman plant – almost forever was the answer he got.

Earlier in the meeting Councillor Taylor had asked what the life of the plant was – Wilson told him that “we see unlimited growth in that factory” and that “we are poised for significant growth if we have the right conditions”.

What was surprising is that Sofina was apparently not fully aware of the plans the city had for the Appleby GO station mobility hub. Wilson did say that “we just learned about this a few days ago”.

One wonders where the Economic Development Corporation was in all this. A corporation that employs 1000 people matters in a city the size of Burlington.

George Wilson will meet with people in the planning department and talk about those “land use conflicts” out of the public eye.

Editor’s note:  The Gazette has fallen behind a bit on covering the mobility hubs story – the Downtown core developments have taken up much in the way of our resources.  More to follow on the hub story.

 

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3 comments to Fearman pork has long term plans for growth in Burlington – mobility hub plans create some ‘land use issues’.

  • William

    “What was surprising is that Sofina was apparently not fully aware of the plans the city had for the Appleby GO station mobility hub. Wilson did say that “we just learned about this a few days ago”.”

    That he does not know is part of a widespread problem.

    And that’s how the Official Plan will get approved – planning will ram it through – counting on public ignorance – all while saying they have engaged us through their trite slogans and pretty drone shot videos.

    Council, led by the mayor, fails to understand their role is more than rubber-stamping the plan. They have an obligation to let the public know what’s coming, get feedback, and make their decision that’s in the public’s best interests – not the developers interests or the planning department’s agenda.

    Apart from one council member, the other council members are mute.

  • Allison

    There is zero mystery to the land use concerns. High density residential is not compatible with the sights and smells of a high volume meat packer. People will move in and then complain that it smells downwind and will want their corporate neighbors limited or moved. It has been an issue for decades, even centuries with that industry and others who create smells and sounds that are unpleasant – as cities grow they are pushed out of the occupied areas to the fringes. Fearmans will not want more homes because each homeowner is a potential opponent to any approvals they need to expand. Just as I’m sure the brick people decades ago knew that building in Tyendaga would lead to conflicts down the road.

    • KJ

      Exactly Allison. That plant already smells terrible and must be horrible to live close to for the people to the south of the Appleby GO station. I get overwhelmed just driving past it some days; I can’t imagine living near it. And it’s been getting steadily worse over the years ever since they bought the plant from Maple Leaf. I have long suspected they don’t maintain or upgrade the air scrubbing equipment properly. And now they want to expand at the same time Council wants to densify right next door? Great idea.

      But then, the entire Appleby Mobility hub is misguided. Their concept of a Utopian commuter village falls flat once you look around the area and realize they will be within walking distance of almost nothing. One small plaza and a bunch of industrial businesses. Where do I sign?

      I wonder if Council has considered any of this at all.

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