Broccolini’s North Gower warehouse passes early hurdle despite resident opposition

James Beach
Broccolini's director of real estate and development James Beach, on site at the Amazon warehouse construction site in 2018. Photo by Mark Holleron
Editor's Note

Coun. Scott Moffatt's name was incorrectly written in a previous version of this article.

The stage is set for Broccolini’s proposed warehouse in North Gower after a city committee approved plans in principle for the project Thursday.

The agricultural and rural affairs committee approved the proposal to amend zoning bylaws and the official plan for 1966 Roger Stevens Dr. to allow a warehouse to be built at the site just off Highway 416.

Broccolini, the Montreal-based developer that constructed Amazon’s massive warehouse on Boundary Road, submitted initial plans earlier this summer to allow for a distribution facility on the Roger Stevens site. Though Broccolini first sought heights of 30 metres for a 700,000-square-foot facility, the staff report approved Thursday recommended a maximum height of 22 metres, up from the existing limit of 15 metres.

The proposal has been controversial for many residents of the rural community of North Gower, who showed up in droves to Thursday’s meeting to urge councillors to reject the project. Many were concerned about significant traffic disruptions on the site – currently home to cornfields and a few farm structures – and environmental impacts of the proposed warehouse. The 121-acre site in question is currently zoned to allow for an industrial-use building with a footprint of 1.4 million square feet.

James Beach, Broccolini’s director of real estate and development, clarified at the meeting that the company has not yet submitted any plans to build a warehouse as large as 700,000 square feet, and that the rezoning process is intended to provide “flexibility” to the developer as it seeks a tenant. In initial discussions with prospective tenants, Beach said he has heard a build-out up to 700,000 square feet would be warranted.

Many of the concerns residents brought to the committee meeting Thursday regarded a lack of details about Broccolini’s proposal. Steve Pentz, a consultant helping Broccolini with the proposal, said more concrete details on concerns such as traffic impacts will be tabled at the site plan application stage.

Rideau-Goulbourn Coun. Scott Moffatt, whose ward contains the site in question, brought forward an amendment to the motion that looked to address a series of resident concerns. The motion, which ultimately passed by a vote of 4-1, will limit the total volume of all facilities constructed – effectively preventing additional large warehouses from being built on the site. The motion also restricts storage and waste-processing uses and require 100 metres of open space to separate any development from buildings to the west of the site.

Moffatt’s motion also contained a holding provision, which will require any applicant to submit a site plan application before building anything on the land.

City council will consider the zoning and official plan amendments to the North Gower site on Dec. 11.