Proposal for trucking hub in Puslinch meets opposition

PUSLINCH – Wellington Motor Freight wants to build its new headquarters on property at the corner of Brock and Gilmour Roads and relocate from its current location on MacLean Road.

But the property in question is zoned highway-commercial and the new site, proposed to be a new hub for the trucking/logistics company, would need to be zoned industrial.

The property, 128 Brock Road, falls within Puslinch’s economic development area, which allows for employment lands.

Currently there are two dwellings on the property, and it is vacant.

The proposal would see the dwellings demolished and a 20,000-square-metre warehouse with an office area mezzanine and an additional 2,700-square-metre, three-storey office building constructed on the site.

The proposal would have trucks entering and exiting from Brock Road and a separate employee entrance off Gilmour Road.

There would be parking for 170 employees and 123 tractors and trailers.

The company has hired MHBC planners to take care of the application and planner Pierre Chauvin said they have done a number of required studies – traffic, water, wastewater, noise – and while a noise barrier wall is recommended to contain noise, and a right-turn lane on northbound Brock Road (which is also Highway 6) to ease congestion, no other mitigation measures are required.

Residents in the Meadows of Aberfoyle, a gated community on Gilmour Road across from the proposed site, strongly objected to the proposal and several delegations spoke at a public meeting on March 22.

“The application deviates significantly from the Provincial Policy Statement and (Wellington County’s) Official Plan,” said Alastair McCluskey, speaking on behalf of residents.

“It doesn’t consider the impact on residents … Industrial zoning should not be next to residential.”

The gated community has its own water supply and septic system and residents were concerned the operation across the street would impact their water.

They are also concerned about noise and diesel fumes from idling trucks, they say traffic in the roundabout at Gilmour and Brock would be backed up, and more than anything, they are worried about losing the “buffer zone” the highway/commercial zoning offers between their residential community and the industrial zone further south on Brock Road.

Mark Lunshof, president of Wellington Supply Chain, part of the Wellington Group of Companies, said the company aspires to have a positive workplace culture and to be a good corporate citizen,

“We love this community,” he said. “Everything you are saying are valid concerns.

“And through this process, if it turns out this is not the right facility, we don’t want to ram it down your throats.

“I don’t think we’re too late in the process to hear your voice. We’re here to work with you.”

Blue Triton, formerly Nestle Waters, is located on the west side of Brock Road and in a letter to the township, natural resource manager Andreanne Simard outlined Blue Triton’s concerns with the proposal.

“Without proper controls at the facility, the proposed development would be a direct threat to the local groundwater quality and particularly to the (Blue Triton) production well which supplies all of the water to its 200-employee facility,” Simard wrote.

“If this project moves forward, it has the potential to affect our business if strong environmental compliance is not followed or an accidental spill were to occur.”

Simard outlined stormwater management, road salt, the potential for contaminate infiltration, and risk to the aquifer as chief among Blue Triton’s concerns.

She wrote the proposed development “is an unnecessary threat to the groundwater resources for all residents and businesses in this area.”

Blue Triton did not attend the public meeting.

Council made no decisions at the meeting and the application will return to council at a later date.

Wellington County planner Zach Prince said this is the first application in the county that falls under the new, accelerated planning timelines set out by the province in Bills 109 and 23.

The application was deemed complete on Feb. 8, so the township has until May to reach its decision.