GUELPH POLITICAST #263 – They Had Concerns

You may remember Xinyi, a Chinese glass manufacturer that wanted to try and build a plant just next door in Guelph/Eramosa Township. All but one of the township’s councillors rejected the proposal in the wake of wide-spread public outcry about the effect on the local environment, especially the water supply, and that seemed to be the end of that. It wasn’t. The story then moved to Stratford.

Last fall, it was announced that Xinyi was trying again in the Festival City, and this time they had a Ministerial Zoning Order in hand. Typically, and MZO is meant to be used in the event of an emergency, or for projects of provincial significance, but according to Environmental Defence, more MZOs were handed out in 2020 than in the previous 20 years combined. One of those MZOs was intended for Xinyi’s new plant.

MZOs have been the great boogeyman for activists lately as they override the normal planning processes and timelines, and Stratford is just one of the places that is fighting back. An organization called Get Concerned Stratford organized, even though the Xinyi plant seemed like a done deal, but they still demonstrated, petitioned, delegated, and they forced Xinyi to put the entire project on pause. So does this mean public pressure still works?

Melissa Verspeeten, who is a member and spokesperson for Get Concerned Stratford, will help us figure that out on this week’s podcast. She will talk about her beginnings as an activist, and the political and planning conditions in Stratford that led to this project being proposed in the first place. Verspeeten will also talk about the difficulty in getting materials on the project, and Xinyi’s attempts to discredit Get Concerned. She will also discuss the future of her group, and what other groups can learn in their own local fights against MZOs.

So let’s get back in the fight against Xinyi on this week’s Guelph Politicast!

You can learn more about Get Concerned Stratford and its activism via their website and social media pages. The Stratford Beacon Herald had complete coverage of Xinyi, and you can check that out here.

The host for the Guelph Politicast is Podbean. Find more episodes of the Politicast here, or download them on your favourite podcast app at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, and Spotify.

Also, when you subscribe to the Guelph Politicast channel and you will also get an episode of Open Sources Guelph every Monday, and an episode of End Credits every Friday.

Photo Courtesy of Get Concerned Stratford

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