By: Laura Steiner
The Region of Halton and its municipalities have launched a joint court application against CN’s Intermodal facility over jurisdictional issues. They made the announcement following the February 21, 2018 Regional council meeting.
The proposed project was brought forward in March, 2015 for a facility to be located on a 400 acre plot of land in Southwest Milton. When completed it could bring approximately 1000 direct jobs to the area.
CN argues that since they are in a federally regulated industry, the normal planning processes as stated in the Planning Act don’t apply to them. They have entered into a federally regulated process under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA). The environmental impact statement was submitted in December, 2015. “CN has and continues to engage local and provincial governments, Aboriginal groups, and community members on the project itself, to discuss solutions to mitigate potential effects of the proposed hub, and on ways to enhance potential local benefits of this critical infrastructure project,” Vice President, Corporate Development and Sustainability Janet Drysdale said in an email. It remains in the review process.
The Region disagrees with CN’s assertion. “CN’s absolute rejection of provincial and municipal government jurisdiction leaves the Halton Municipalities no choice but to pursue legal action to confirm our legitimate role,” Regional Chair Gary Carr said. The proposed Intermodal breaks an estimated 28 pieces of municipal, and provincial legislation.
“It’s just not a proper use in our opinion (Region of Halton, Town of Milton) with good land use planning,” Milton Mayor Gord Krantz said. The entrance to the proposed facility is directly south of a residential area known as Boyne Survey, parts of which are currently under construction. The Region of Halton designated it as strategic employment area during the last official plan review.
The region is concerned over the project’s consequences to area residents. An estimated 1600 trucks are planned for the site everyday. “The Halton Municipalities are committed to protecting resident interests for our communities,” Carr said. The court challenge will seek to confirm the role of the province of Ontario, and the Halton municipalities in the process.
Carr has also sent a letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. He hopes her response will be positive. “Any time the federal government tries to infringe on provincial responsibilities, it’s incumbent on the Premier to stand up for the province,” he said. A response would come through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We’ve got to have the province on our side. They’re the ones that mandate that we have proper planning in place,” Krantz added.
The development has faced strong community opposition as well. Rita Vogel-Post of Milton RAIL (Residents Affected by Intermodal Locations) is pleased with the decision. “I’m so happy with what the Town, and the Region are doing. To stand up for what the community, and the rights of the community,” she said.