Residents concerned about proposed Jones Baseline manufacturing facility

GUELPH/ERAMOSA – More than a dozen people expressed concerns about potential traffic and noise increases, threats to groundwater quality, loss of farmland and risks to safety should a manufacturing facility be approved along Jones Baseline.

Georgetown-based fridge and freezer manufacturer Minus Forty, which currently occupies an 80,000 square foot space, has planned to move its operations to a larger plant in Guelph/Eramosa.

At a Sept. 7 council meeting community members spoke out against the proposed fridge and freezer manufacturing plant.

The proposed plant would be located on a 27.8 acre parcel at 5063 Jones Baseline, southeast of Highway 7, between Rockwood and Guelph.

In a previous interview with the Advertiser, founder and CEO Julian Attree said the company’s current location is home to roughly 150 employees, but the expansion would allow for an additional 250 within the next five years.

The proposed location is currently zoned agriculture but has been designated as a “rural employment area” under the County of Wellington Official Plan.

Under this designation, the county policy notes the lands are therefore “set aside for industrial and limited commercial uses which would benefit from a rural location.”

The requested zoning change would allow for the construction of a 163,979 square foot industrial facility with 90,000 square feet for future expansions.

The first phase of the proposed development will include administration, manufacturing and warehousing areas with eleven loading bays, 242 parking spaces and room for two additional expansions.

Prior to the delegations, council heard from GSP Group planner Hugh Handy, on behalf of Minus Forty, who presented the details of the proposed building in the Tuesday meeting.

The overall site plan includes parking, loading areas, an advanced level wastewater treatment system and stormwater management facilities, explained Handy.

He said the facility would be a “dry industrial use” meaning it would not consume “a significant amount of water or produce a significant amount of effluent,” with no water or chemicals used during the manufacturing process.

A draft image showing the proposed facility.


“We believe this will make a great contribution to the economic prosperity of not only the township, but the county and the broader region,” he concluded.

Following Handy’s presentation to council, delegates voiced their concerns.

Jon Pigozzo, whose house is located a few doors down from the proposed development, spoke on behalf of a number of residents.

He said the property “sound more like a place you’d want to build a school, not a factory almost five times the size of the average Costco.”

Speaking to the facility’s potential threat to groundwater, Dan Mallette, whose residence borders the land of the proposed development, said the proposed location is in close proximity to two municipal well heads and numerous private wells.

He added the Ministry of Natural Resources has indicated groundwater in the area is already under a high threat level.

“It’s not what it takes out of the ground we’re concerned with,” Mallette. “It’s what it has the potential to put into the ground and our drinking water.”

Another delegate, Liz Dunne, also posed a question directly to Attree, asking him why he chose the location along Jones Baseline.

Attree replied, “We did an extensive search for a location and this property was brought to our attention and with extensive work with planners from the best of our abilities we felt that this was a good option for us, and from a structural point of view, for the community.

“As we looked around for something in this area, quite frankly we have not been able to find a lot of locations that met our parameters. This was one of them that did.”

In response to delegates’ concerns, Handy spoke on behalf of the company, noting it will be preparing a comprehensive response to the issues raised during the meeting.

“We will be going through the site interface as we go through the planning,” Handy assured.

“The last thing you want are angry and upset neighbours, so we need to go through this as a team.”

Council received the report regarding the zoning bylaw amendment for information and will vote on the proposed zoning change at a future date, following the completion of a further report.