Photo of a country road in Wilmot Township.
CRAIG BECKER PHOTO

WILMOT RESIDENTS FIGHT FOR FARMLAND IN FACE OF POTENTIAL GOVERNMENT EXPROPRIATION  

In March 2024, some farmers in the Wilmot Township received notices on behalf of the Region of Waterloo asking them to sell their properties. Landowners who live the intersection of Nafziger Road and Bleams Road feel they are being forces off their land for the use of “future industrial projects.”  

Landowners said a representative from the private Mississauga-based company, Canacre, knocked on their doors to give them the notice that the Region of Waterloo wants to buy their properties.  

The landowners received compensation offers and were told that if they refused the offer their land would be expropriated.   

Kevin Thomason, Vice Chair of the Grand River Environmental Network, and his team have organized public movements for the farmers to speak up against the acquisition.  

On June 24, there was a meeting for the Wilmot farmers at the Hamburg Community Center.   

Since the acquisition has broken out, there has been widespread concern throughout the Region of Waterloo. Their biggest concern includes not knowing who exactly is behind the expropriation proceedings.  

Thomason said the prices offered for the farmers’ land was “embarrassingly low.” Even now, landowners and the Grand River Environmental Network are not sure whether the proceedings are because of the municipal or provincial government. It is also not clear to landowners why their land is being acquired.  

Many farmers, community members and allies have protested the proposed use of the land. During a regional council meeting in June, dozens of people protested the mega industrial site proposal.  

On Monday June 24, there were two opportunities to rally and show support for the Fight for Farmland in Wilmot. One was during the Nith River Grand Opening and the other was the Wilmot Township Council meeting.   

It feels clear to Thomason that the land is being purchased for the purposes of a mega industrial site. He argues that the site is being imposed without proper consultation or consideration for the local community, posing significant environmental and social risks.  

The lack of transparency and accountability from the provincial government is cited as a concern. On their website, Canacre says it “helps navigate complex infrastructure projects through the regulatory process.”   

“We were told it was a battery manufacturing [plant] or factory,, but we know the reason the water there for that massive amounts of water. They’re also highly toxic. It’s not something we want to be putting right in the middle of the area that produces all our food, and right in the middle of the area that supplies most of our regional groundwater. So it’s a really absurd confounding location,” Thomason said.   

During the previous Wednesday, dozens of protestors flooded the Wilmot Township council meeting. They managed to speak at the meeting about their concern for the land.   

Results from 2022 Canadian Agriculture at a Glance determined Ontario is a pivotal contributor to national agriculture. The 2021 Census of Agriculture showed that Ontario accounted for 25.5 percent of total farms in Canada while also making up seven percent of total farm area.   

“They don’t like the fact that all the elected officials who they they elected to be their representative either voice won’t even take their phone calls or speak to them. So they can’t even appear in council chambers to delegate. It’s been absolutely abysmal how, how things have unfolded.” Thomason said.   

The proposed site threatens to disrupt the agricultural community and output of the province. There is specific concern over the land spanning 8.5 kilometres in circumference, bringing in over 3,000 factory workers which would cause gridlock traffic to the local area.  

There are also major environmental issues being brought up by the Grand River Environmental Network and Fightforfarmland.com. This includes surface water contamination, excessive water consumption and groundwater depletion. 

Farmers, landholders and environmental advocates alike have been organizing town halls and protests for the past few months to put pressure on the government to negotiate with them. On June 24, 2024, a protest was held at a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new trail that MPP Mike Harris Jr. 

Farmers, landholders and environmental advocates alike have been organizing town halls and protests for the past few months to put pressure on the government to negotiate with them. On June 24, 2024, a protest was held at a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new trail that MPP Mike Harris Jr. Appeared at. During the previous Wednesday, dozens of protestors flooded the Wilmot Township council meeting. They managed to speak at the meeting about their concern for the land.  

Results from “2022 Canadian Agriculture at a Glance” determined Ontario is a pivotal contributor to national agriculture. The 2021 Census of Agriculture showed that Ontario accounted for 25.5 percent of total farms in Canada while also making up seven percent of total farm area.  

“They don’t like the fact that all the elected officials who they they elected to be their representative either voice won’t even take their phone calls or speak to them. So they can even appear in council chambers to delegate. It’s been absolutely abysmal how, how things have unfolded.” Thomason said.  

The proposed site threatens to disrupt the agricultural community and output of the province. There is specific concern over the land spanning eight point five in circumference, bringing in over 3,000 factory workers which would cause gridlock traffic to the local area. There is also major environmental issues being brought up by the Grand River Environmental Network and Fightforfarmland.com. This includes surface water contamination, excessive water consumption and groundwater depletion.

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