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Jane and St. Clair residents campaign against proposed factory

Last Updated Mar 11, 2018 at 11:37 pm EDT

Residents in a west-end neighbourhood were dreaming of a park on an empty city lot in the area, but they might get a controversial business instead.

Community members in the Jane and St. Clair area are organizing a campaign after a parcel of land at 200 Rockcliffe Court was conditionally sold by the city to St. Helen’s Meat Packers Limited.

“I think this neighbourhood has experienced a lot of environmental discrimination in the past and it just feels like that’s just happening againm” said Deane O’Leary, Co-Founder of Black Creek Alliance, a group that was advocating for the land to be used as green space.

The property, which used to be a landfill and sewage treatment plant, is known for flooding — most recently in 2013.

It’s also next to a waterway that leads to the Humber River. The residents are concerned about water pollution and traffic with regards to nearby schools, especially the one right across the street.

Locals say they wish they were consulted first.

“This could be part of a network of green spaces that serve not only a recreational purpose but also an ecological purpose, a purpose of retaining wildlife and cleaning the water” said local resident and activist Johnny Dip.

CityNews reached out to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and Ward 11 Councillor Frances Nunziata for comment and did not hear back at the time of publishing.

St. Helen’s Meat Packers, the company set to buy the land, said in an email statement that the community has been aware of the proposal for two years and many organizations have worked on addressing issues related to the plot.

“The proposed facility is focused on meeting the specific freezing and cold storage requirements of certain export markets while creating an estimated 100 local employment opportunities for the community. The notice of sale for Rockcliffe has been posted in the community for approximately two years. There have been extensive efforts by multiple organizations to address all of the unique challenges associated with the land prior to the sale.”

“There are two futures” explains Dip, “ This could become victim to the environmental injustice that this area has been subject to for decades or it becomes one of the most beautiful places in Toronto”

The city and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority will vote on the fate of the plot on Mar. 23.