FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2021
Key 99-page report withheld from public
Annexation of land for Stratford glass factory far from transparent
STRATFORD, ON – A large swath of prime farmland commandeered for the sole purpose of accommodating the controversial Xinyi Canada glass factory was annexed without the public’s knowledge of what it was being annexed for, revealed artist and local resident Loreena McKennitt during today’s public rally #7 behind city hall, adding that a key public document was also withheld from the public.
Facing mounting public opposition, Xinyi Canada announced February 16th it was indefinitely suspending plans to build a $400-million float glass factory in Stratford. Now, citizens are demanding answers from elected officials, as well as the ‘undoing’ of steps that were taken under less-than-transparent pretenses in order to facilitate the contentious project.
While a public consultation was promised by Stratford’s mayor for the annexation process as well as for an MZO, at least one significant and relevant report was never made available to the public. “This 99-page report outlines many items of public interest, including the fact the entire purpose of the annexation was to support the advancement of a glass factory and that an MZO would be requested of the minister – things the public were completely kept in the dark about at the time.” McKennitt told the crowd.
“As a result, we believe the annexation step was taken entirely under false pretenses and that the citizens of Stratford and Perth County deserve an unwinding of this flawed process,” added McKennitt, who is also the founder of Wise Communities.
“These lands have not yet changed hands and it is most certainly not too late to reverse this course of events and put everything back the way it was. Deciding the ultimate use of this prime agricultural land should only have happened through an open and transparent public process and with meaningful public engagement,” she said. “In this age of reckoning when we’re talking about a climate emergency and food security surely we have a duty to protect the land and ensure it’s used for the highest purpose.”
The proposed glass factory project dates back to 2018, when Xinyi, select city officials, investStratford, and provincial and federal representatives launched the local initiative. The citizens of Stratford were unaware of the project until a public announcement was made by investStratford in October 2020. Shortly thereafter, local opposition to the project mobilized. Rallies, vigils, letter writing, and other forms of protest took hold, garnering media attention far beyond Stratford.
Opposition to the factory came from many corners, including the Perth Federation of Agriculture, First Nations communities, voices of labour, environmental groups and individual citizens. In July 2018, the township of Guelph-Eramosa had voted to reject Xinyi’s application to build a glass factory in its region.
Today’s rally was videotaped and will be posted to the Wise Communities’ YouTube channel.
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