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Barrie seeks Township approval for fuel operation in Utopia, Fire Chief concerned

Posted November 6, 2017

The City of Barrie and Simcoe County, owners of the Barrie/Collingwood railway line, have applied to Essa Township to lease a portion of the Utopia rail yard to CANDO Fuels for a bulk fuel transfer facility.

Utopia rail yard is located at 8716 County Road 56 in the industrial area, but zoned agricultural. A zoning amendment would be required to M1 Industrial to permit the uses. Essa's official plan intends the site to be utilized for railways, hydro transmission lines and transformers and related necessary facilities.

CANDO would lease about three to five acres of the 10.95 acre property for its $6-8 million project.

According to Barrie's report to Essa, the rail cars would be off-loaded from the Canadian Pacific Railway and fuels, those being: gas, CBOB gas, ethanol and diesel, would be transferred to storage and/or direct to transport trucks for delivery to gas stations throughout the region. Operations would take place seven days a week, possibly at any hour.

The report from Barrie anticipates the fuel terminal has the potential to increase the carload volume to 1,000 to 2,500 carloads per year, up from the 200-300 carloads that are currently being moved on the line annually, increasing its annual revenue from $285,500 to $517,000.

"Preliminary comments collected from staff indicate that the (Essa) Fire Chief (Cynthia Ross Tustin) is concerned for fire protection. As such, the applicant has been advised that the Essa Fire Department does not have the capacity to fight a fire at this facility and the applicant will have to provide a solution to this issue," according to Colleen Healty, Essa's manager of planning in her report to council. "The use is also subject to site plan approval, however, this issue should be resolved at this stage to provide a certain comfort level prior to the adoption of a ZBA. Public Works and the NVCA are primarily concerned with drainage, ditching and entrances and these issues can be satisfied during the site plan process. It is anticipated that the public will be most concerned with safety, noise and traffic."

A public meeting will be scheduled by the Township prior to any decision. No date has been set.

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All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri