South Glengarry future garage hits snag

A location to replace the Williamstown public works garage, seen here in a 2017 file photo, has hit a snag. A consultant's report is recommending it be built on Airport Road next to the salt dome. But the province changed the land use to prime agriculture while the study was underway. The township is appealing. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

LANCASTER – The province has thrown a wrench into a preferred site for a new municipal garage near Williamstown.

A consultant’s study is recommending South Glengarry build on Airport Road next to the new salt dome, which is less than a year old.

“The township owns that land. There’s a lot of land available to them at that site,” consultant Josh Eamon told council this month. Eamon said relocating the Williamstown garage to Airport Road from inside the village would have a “very negligible impact ” on the time to snowplow area roads.

The township has a second salt dome and garage in North Lancaster.

The only problem – the Ontario government changed the designation on Airport Road to prime agricultural land, killing any sort of development.

The new building is needed and the township wanted to get started right away as council gave the go-ahead in January for pricing and design work for the fire department to relocate from John Street to a retrofitted municipal works building on William Street. The design has been completed and municipal works needs a new home.

“This property has been recently re-designated as prime ag land so the (rural) zoning no longer conforms,” Community Services General Manager Joanne Haley said. “So, if we’re not successful with our (Official Plan) appeal, then we’re looking at an entirely different discussion.”

If we’re not successful in re-designating that area from prime ag land back to rural, there maybe no ability to construct any additional infrastructure (on Airport Road).”

Haley said she has spoken with the municipal lawyer about whether there is something the township can do, such as “not following the provincial policy statement.”

The appeal is not likely to be heard until the middle of 2019 and into early 2020, shelving any development on Airport Road for at least a year. Haley is hopeful the township’s appeal will be successful given the existing buildings and uses on the road.

“What we could do…is work with the province and work with our lawyer to obtain that opinion to determined if it’s something we can do in the meantime,” Haley suggested.

“The answer’s not no (to development), but the answer’s not a straight yes, at this point.”

The garage study cost $8,700.

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