Tay Township council upholds decision to deny proposed fire training centre

Ontario Construction News staff writer

Southwest Fire Academy’s plan to build a fire training centre on agricultural land in Tay Township has been rejected by the local council, a decision expected to be appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal.

In a letter to council, property owner Glenn Irish threatens legal action against the municipality, if council doesn’t reverse their decision.

“We request that council reconsiders their decision and allows Southwest Fire Academy and Tay Fire to training on site at 1420 Newton Street,” he wrote. “I am seeking legal counsel and will be forced to take this matter to court to appeal the decision made.

“Watching the public meetings regarding the training locations showed me there was no reason for the council members to vote against the site. The points that were made were invalid and proven to not be an issue.”

Irish called the assertion that the area is farmland unacceptable, “as we cannot utilize this area as such, due to the spring flooding and soil consistency.”

“I am also aware that the MECP has approved the requested training site and is in support. Southwest Fire Academy and I have jumped through the appropriate hoops and are willing to comply with the township to make this a good working relationship,” he wrote. “I strongly feel this decision was made in a very unprofessional and unfair manner.

“If council is unwilling to reconsider, I will be forced to take legal action against the township of Tay.

Council acknowledged the letter at the Sept. 27 council meeting and stood behind the decision deny to a temporary zoning amendment to permit the project.

The Southwest Fire Academy plan to build a fire training centre on three acres of  a 98.5-acre property at 1420 Newton St., a location that has been used for training for years.

Southwest Fire Academy was established in 2015, as a response to the recognized need for quality, safe, and affordable fire and rescue training in Ontario. This is not your average fire college.

SFA is an accredited Private Career College that is regulated by the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities, with a Memorandum of Understanding with the Office of the Fire Marshal. This means that SFA is an approved training provider with the OFM and our programs are recognized in Ontario.

In his letter, Irish said the town may be hit with costs to remove a dry hydrant, now that fire training activities are no longer permitted on the site.

fire academyDeputy Mayor Barry Norris questioned the council decision.

“There are no applicable laws, (stating) that anyone who owns agricultural land has to farm it. They can do whatever they want to that property. I still maintain that,” said Norris.

However, Mayor Ted Walker suggested changing the official plan and zoning bylaw to protect agricultural land across the town.

“I think that we can’t pick and choose. Either we don’t want agricultural land used for any other purpose or we do,” said Walker. “I will be bringing something to council along those lines that we shore up our official plan and zoning bylaw to prevent any use of lands zoned agricultural for any other purposes than agricultural uses and uses associated with agriculture.”


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