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Public shares concerns about trucking company's plans to move to Aberfoyle

Aberfoyle residents have formed a citizen's group to oppose a proposal to rezone a piece of property that would clear the way for a trucking firm to relocate there

PUSLINCH – There was little to no support at a public meeting Tuesday for the rezoning of a piece of land in Aberfoyle to allow for a large trucking company to set up shop.

Wellington Motor Freight has applied to rezone 128 Brock Rd. S., a 15-acre property near Gilmour Road. It would permit a three-storey office building and warehouse along with many trucks.Totalling just under 218,000 square feet, the new location would consolidate an existing office in Puslinch and Campbellville for over 100 employees and an additional 50 drivers.

Puslinch council chambers were filled with roughly 100 people for the public meeting, where people were invited to share concerns and ask questions. 

Despite asking for the audience to wait their turn to speak, Mayor James Seeley could barely get a word out without being met with open disagreement from the audience. 

The main focus of their frustrations ranged from from traffic noise, congestion on Gilmour road, the possibility of night or weekend work, to septic capacity. 

One Aberfoyle resident, Ben McConnell, asked the company to comment on why backup beepers were not included in the noise survey. 

“Backup beepers are one of the top six noise sources people associated with behavioural and emotional consequences,” said McConnell, quoting the National Academy of Engineering. “But they're not included in the noise study which boggles the mind.” 

According to staff members, since backup beepers are a safety feature of transport trucks, their impact is not required to be assessed. But McConnell said, “So what?”

“The way you mitigate beepers is by having a big buffer of land between the trucks and the residents,” said McConnell. 

He also asked about company vice-president Mark Lunshof making previous statements about his hopes for 24/7 work, which Lunshof denied. 

However, later in the meeting, he clarified that employees are not kept to a strict nine-to-five schedule and may come and go outside regular hours, even on Saturday mornings. 

“I’m not here to be the enemy. All of us ownership lives here and we’re as proud of being in Puslinch as you are,” said Lunshof. “We thought we were going to build you something you guys would be proud to drive by but I understand your concerns.” 

Lisa Ross, another Aberfoyle resident, was the first of many to bring up the use of Gilmour Road as a main source of traffic flow for the trucks despite it being a gravel road that largely boasts local foot traffic and several bus stops. 

“My neighbour refers to the Gilmour Road roundabout as Russian roulette,” said Ross. “The roadway distance from the exit of the property to the roundabout, versus the number of cars is just not going to be sufficient.”

According to the company’s transportation impact study, by only allowing “15 trucks in, 15 trucks out” every day, the anticipated traffic delay is one second or less at the Brock Road South and driveway entrance. 

"I want to say, for the people who turn right on Gilmour; please go take a look at the end," said Patricia Hoag. "Look left and you'll see nothing. It's a blind hill. So for all the cars that are going to turn on Gilmour then turn left, that's a moral error and I pray you guys take that into consideration."

A petition started by One Aberfoyle, a community group against industrial rezoning, was also presented during the meeting. Created in March 2023, it cites many residents' concerns and has reached 224 signatures.

Sue Daniel, who lives in close proximity to the proposed location, expressed her concerns.

"When you come within 150 meters of where my grandchild plays, where we enjoy our backyard, and where we sit and enjoy our community. I take great offense to that," said Daniel. "I ask you to ask yourself, would you want to live with that in your backyard? Would you want to buy my house after this happens? Because there are people sitting in this room that are saying if this happens, they're out of here." 

In several letters to the mayor, councillors, and planning staff, many Puslinch and Aberfoyle residents also reached out before the meeting to share they are ”losing sleep” over the proposal. 

“I urge you to please deny this rezoning application and allow the hamlet of Aberfoyle and north Puslinch to remain the quiet and peaceful place that it is,” wrote one local. “Many of us moved here to get away from the noise of busier towns, and we are now faced with the disturbing future of being neighbours to…a trucking company.” 

Others claim it’s a “disaster waiting to happen.” 

“Wellington Freight consultants have suggested that there will be little or no impact on Gilmour. How is that conclusion possible or even supported?” questioned one email. “This rezoning should not be approved and consideration of residents should be prioritized over a trucking firm’s desire to have access to the 401 at the expense of the community around them.” 

The Aberfoyle Industrial lands are currently home to more than 20 trucking, distribution, and warehousing companies.

The issue will be back in front of council in May for staff recommendation and eventually a council decision.

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.


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About the Author: Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Isabel Buckmaster covers Wellington County under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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