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Aviation development proposal gets hearing before Clearview councillors

In Candidates / Election 2014
Mar 24th, 2015

By Ian Adams Wasaga Sun

CLEARVIEW Twp. — A development proposed for land beside the Collingwood Regional Airport has taken its first tentative steps toward receiving regulatory approval.

On Monday night, Clearview Township held a public meeting on an official plan amendment that could lead to the development of a multi-million-dollar light industrial development.

The backers of the Clearview Aviation Commerce Centre have already amassed about 260 acres that would be developed over three phases. They’ve also approached the Town of Collingwood to purchase an additional 30 acres of the airport lands in order to square off sections of the property.

“Our intention is to develop a world-class commerce centre that will attract business from Ontario, North America, and around the world,” Remo Niceforo, one of the principals of CACC Holdings, told Clearview Township councillors.

CACC Holdings has already held two open houses with neighbours, and Monday’s presentation was the first statutory hearing on the project.

The company is applying to redesignate the property from agricultural to a special policy employment area to serve the existing airport use. The lands are already within a special policy area because of its proximity to the airport.

The official plan and zoning changes would permit a variety of uses, including flight schools, light manufacturing and mechanical facilities related to aeronautics, and other airport-related uses.

During the public meeting, several residents stepped forward to express concerns about potential uses, and the potential impact of any increase in air or road traffic. Martina Shaw, who owns farmland at both ends of the proposed development, expressed a concern about drainage and the impact of the project on neighbour’s wells.

“I’m taking a wait-and-see,” Shaw told The Sun after the meeting, noting she was also concerned about stormwater pond areas and whether they would become breeding grounds for bugs.

Robert Curran also expressed a concern for potential habitat loss, noting while the company’s consultants had noted several at-risk bird species on the site, they had missed snowy owls and a bald eagle.

Niceforo said the residents’ issues would be addressed as the project moves through the process.

“This is not the kind of project that happens overnight,” Niceforo told The Sun after the meeting. “There are many, many steps to the process, and each step is tedious and thorough, and we will address all the concerns effectively and in a transparent way.”

The company is in the process of hiring a marketing firm that will begin to search out potential tenants. However, noted Niceforo, marketing the property can’t happen until the official plan amendment and new zoning is in place.

Those approvals aren’t likely to come until May, after the municipality’s planning staff review the comments of residents, outside agencies, and internally, and report back to council.

“One of the challenges, one of the things were cognizant about is to not go to the market prematurely,” he said. “We don’t have any deliverables at this stage of the game.

“All conversations have been very high level, but we want to get this part done, and once we get the right zoning in place, then we’ll start the next steps, which will include the marketing.”

The project is expected to be fully built out over the next decade, and could ultimately employ about 400 people in a variety of industries. Actual site work could start later this year, with construction potentially beginning in mid-to-late 2016.

“I think we have the opportunity here to develop something very unique and interesting in the province,” Niceforo said. “We very excited about it.”

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