‘We’re not backing off’ say Wanstead neighbours

Dave King at the April 29 council.

Heather Wright/The Independent

Wanstead residents concerned about the prospect of a livestock trailer washing operation near their homes have been given a temporary reprieve.

The Wanstead businessman behind the project – Pat Belanger – was slated for a Plympton-Wyoming planning meeting Monday to have the property on Leyton Street rezoned to allow the operation. But after about 30 residents waited an hour-and-a-half for the hearing, they were told by Mayor Gary Atkinson the application had been deferred. The landowners in the area wrote letters to council, voicing their concerns about the washing facility which was also sent to Belanger’s planners, Monteith and Brown. “All the information will be taken under consideration and addressed,” said Atkinson.

“We’re not backing off,” said Dan Moffat, on the residents at the meeting.

Moffat tells The Independent he worries the project will devalue the property in the area. A letter from real estate agent Leo Shanahan backs up the statement. He says the property values around the proposed operation could drop between 25 and 50 per cent.

Other residents in the audience were seen holding real estate company folders with their own evaluations of their property should the project go through.

Jackie Kay and her husband have lived in Wanstead for decades. Their property abuts Belanger’s. Kay says there is already an agri business in the area – Wanstead Farmers Co-Op – but this operation would be different.

“In the summer, in the spring, it gets pretty busy out there with the guys taking their crop in, but it’s doesn’t last, you know; it’s not a continual thing.” Kay says the trailer washing station would operate year round.

By far the largest concern for the residents is water. All of the homes, and the proposed operation, operate on a well system.
Dave King’s property abuts the land Belanger owns. He’s worried the dirt and animal feces washed away from the trailers will make it into someone’s well. “So you’re going to keep putting all that manure on that gravel (laneway) and every time it rains, it’s going to leach out, and leach out to everybody’s property.”

Most concerning, says King, is a well not more than 30 feet away from the proposed trailer washing facility. That’s Melody Halliday’s well. “The existing gravel lot is built up to a higher elevation than my property,” she wrote in a letter to council.

“Every time it rains, water runs off this lot and into my backyard, flooding it. Nothing is stopping contaminants from washing into my yard, right where my water well is located.”
What is her biggest worry? “Dying from E coli poisoning,” she says bluntly.

The plan for the livestock trailer washing station has been in the works for some time. The planners report on the rezoning of the property says Cornerstone Group – which specializes in washing and disinfecting barns, industrial facilities, cleaning heavy equipment, bio security consulting and livestock culling, received approval from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks for a water recycling system to be used at the facility.

That, according to Belanger’s planner Joel Steele, from Monteith and Brown, received approval in 2021.

The planning consultant’s report for Plympton-Wyoming adds the operation would use “existing wells for potable water” and to top up the agricultural vehicle washwater system.

The washing area would be built on one side of Leyton Street, according to the plan, and the drying facility would be on the other parcel of land owned by Belanger.

In order for the proposal to move ahead, Plympton-Wyoming must agree to rezone the land. The town’s planning consultant, Jordan Fohkens, said in his report; “While we generally support the proposal, we are of the opinion that several revisions should be made to provide planting strips and setback between a livestock trailer parking area and residential use.”

But, the discussion on the proposal was delayed by Belanger. His planner, said they want to deal with some of the concerns of the neighbours.

“It is our intent is to review all those comments and determining the ways that they can be mitigated through measures like noise fencing or buffering or other measures available and how those could be applied to address them in the submission and review and revise the submission (to council) if needed.”

It’s not clear when the application might return to council.