By Tristan Marks
Farmers, winery owners and private residents alike spoke in defence of a development proposed by the Vineland Growers Cooperative at a public meeting on Monday.
The plan proposes a 10,000 m2 facility on Fourth Avenue near Jordan Road, which would include an agriculture warehouse, grower services, a nursery, cropland and offices.
Opposing the development, John Ariens spoke for the Pearl Morissette Winery, which sits adjacent to the development property.
He argued that the facility’s capacity for loading vehicles to tranpost crops not only would disrupt the winery’s business with traffic, but also that it failed to meet the definition of “agricultural use”.
“What is the accessory use?” asked Ariens. “Farming is the accessory, but trucking will be the main use.”
Ariens added that the development should be located in industrial zoning, away from nearby agricultural properties.
However the rest of the delegates were supportive of the development and argued against Ariens’ claims.
Michael Ecker, president of the Vineland Growers Co-operative said members need the location for its proximity, to better get their crops to market.
He also pointed out that the property has many other important features. Half the property contains Vineland sand, “the best growing soil around” and would be used for important agricultural science, such as grafting grape vines to roots resistant to the red blotch virus.
Hugh Fraser of OTB Solutions argued that the co-op was an extension of its members’ farms and would help conserve their cropland by consolidating transport facilities.
Jamie Slingerland, owner of Pillitteri Estate Winery in Virgil pointed out that his own business has not been negatively impacted by a similar, adjacent Vineland Growers facility . He added that they “had no barriers”, being “good neighbours”.
John Whittaker of Coldwell Commercial introduced himself as a long-time resident of Jordan and said he saw “no difference from many of the other agricultural facilities” near to him.
“It’s definitely not industrial use,” he said.