Dust-spew­ing truck ter­mi­nal in Ford City nixed by coun­cil

Windsor Star - - NEWS - BRIAN CROSS

A dust-spew­ing truck yard does not fit into the re­vi­tal­ized Ford City, the coun­cil­lor for the neigh­bour­hood de­clared Tues­day as he suc­cess­fully im­plored fel­low coun­cil­lors to deny an ap­pli­ca­tion that would have al­lowed the ter­mi­nal to con­tinue op­er­at­ing.

“I have been strug­gling with this trans­porta­tion ter­mi­nal for, it’s got to be five years now,” Ward 5’s Ed Sleiman said as he de­scribed the litany of com­plaints from busi­nesses and res­i­dents up­set over the dirt, dust, noise and traf­fic from the truck yard, lo­cated at Drouil­lard Road and Met­calfe Street, “in the heart of Ford City.”

He said per­mit­ting it would de­stroy ef­forts to at­tract fam­i­lies and busi­nesses to the area.

Gary Du­gal Park is ad­ja­cent to the site. Across the street is the Gino Mar­cus Com­mu­nity Cen­tre and Drouil­lard Place, which are both gath­er­ing places for chil­dren and fam­i­lies.

“It does not fit into Ford City,” Sleiman said of the truck yard.

His mo­tion to deny was passed with only coun­cil­lors Jo-anne Gignac and Fred Fran­cis op­posed.

More than a dozen res­i­dents and busi­ness own­ers wrote the city to com­plain of the con­stant dust, dirt, noise and truck traf­fic.

“It was a night­mare for both home­own­ers such as my­self and any busi­ness op­er­at­ing on Drouil­lard,” wrote Al­bert Road res­i­dent Bruce Shearon.

An­other long­time res­i­dent, Robert Les­sard, said the dust from the trucks threat­ens the health of res­i­dents.

“I live about a five-minute walk to the Garry Du­gal Park. How­ever, I am forced to drive my car to avoid the rock and dust storm that is cre­ated when a truck en­ters the yard,” he said. “If I wanted my home and ve­hi­cle to re­main clean from the dust that is caused from the trucks I would have to wash them once a day.”

Idella Lazar, who has lived on nearby Hick­ory Road for al­most 50 years, said the prop­erty has been a source of com­plaints for years.

“There have been fires, noise all hours of the night, no light­ing, dust and the beep­ing from back­ing up,” she said. “I have walked Drouil­lard Road when a trans­port truck was driv­ing up the street from the yard and had to lit­er­ally wait un­til the dust died down. It was ter­ri­ble!”

Sher­way Auto Sales, lo­cated be­side the truck yard, has been com­plain­ing about dust cov­er­ing its cars for years, ac­cord­ing to man­ager Mark Be­langer.

“We’re ba­si­cally just sick of them skirt­ing the by­laws,” he told coun­cil­lors Tues­day. “If they had been a nice neighbour in the first place and ad­dressed the con­cerns it would be one thing. But they’ve done noth­ing but leave ev­ery­one in a lurch and dis­ap­pointed with how they’ve op­er­ated.”

The com­pany that owns the prop­erty, 4207785 Canada Inc., has been bat­tling in court for sev­eral years with the city. The city ac­cused it of con­tra­ven­ing city by­laws, in­clud­ing al­legedly fail­ing to get site plan ap­proval which would have re­quired im­prove­ments like paving that would have ad­dressed the dust prob­lems. In the mean­time, coun­cil passed an in­terim con­trol by­law last year that froze de­vel­op­ment of new tran­sit ter­mi­nals at many sites through­out the city while a new pol­icy on these yards is de­vel­oped. The com­pleted study is ex­pected this fall.

“Where they’re per­mit­ted and how they’re per­mit­ted is the gen­eral pur­pose of the study,” said Greg Atkin­son, a se­nior plan­ner with the city.

The com­pany, which rents the site to trucking firm MTS, was seek­ing an ex­emp­tion to the in­terim con­trol by­law so it could de­velop a site plan that would have ad­dressed the con­cerns of the city and neigh­bours and al­lowed the yard to op­er­ate, said Melanie Muir of Dil­lon Con­sult­ing, rep­re­sent­ing the com­pany. She said the in­terim con­trol by­law pre­vents the yard from op­er­at­ing with­out the ex­emp­tion.

While Sleiman de­scribed the many com­mu­nity ameni­ties — like a park and com­mu­nity cen­tre — near the prop­erty, Gignac coun­tered that Ford City also has a Ford plant nearby and a scrap­yard across the street from the truck yard.

“The re­al­ity of the area is it is heavy in­dus­trial,” she said, adding that coun­cil can make paving the prop­erty a con­di­tion of grant­ing the ex­emp­tion. By deny­ing the ex­emp­tion there’s a good chance the busi­ness could close, she said.

“We’re will­ing to gam­ble that we may put the busi­ness out of busi­ness and elim­i­nate those jobs,” she said. “I’m not quite un­der­stand­ing this be­cause we’ve been fight­ing and in­vest­ing for every job we could get.”

But Ward 3 Coun. Rino Bor­tolin said the truck yard is lo­cated in the midst of a bur­geon­ing busi­ness im­prove­ment area which is mov­ing away from in­dus­trial uses and at­tract­ing small busi­nesses. He said the truck yard’s owner hasn’t ad­dressed the many com­plaints.

“Even con­sid­er­ing an ex­emp­tion for this pro­po­nent to me is im­pos­si­ble,” Bor­tolin said. “They have not acted in good faith. They have not done the things nec­es­sary to mit­i­gate any of the con­cerns of the neigh­bour­hood.”

He said Ford City is the best ex­am­ple of why the city is study­ing where these truck yards should and should not be al­lowed. He said be­cause Ford City is an “up-and­com­ing” neigh­bour­hood at­tract­ing new busi­nesses, “a trucking ter­mi­nal does not fit in that area.”

DAX MELMER

This truck yard at Met­calfe Street and Drouil­lard Road gen­er­ates a lot of dust and noise for peo­ple who live in the area.

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