Would be a shared HQ with Upper Canada Forest Group, but needs approval for rezoning 55 acres of what is currently farmland
PUSLINCH – Danby’s CEO is looking to establish a global headquarters alongside another Canadian company in Puslinch.
Jim Estill told Puslinch council Wednesday of a proposal to consolidate Danby’s locations in Guelph into a single hub on 60 acres of land beside the Hanlon Expressway and Concession 4 in a rural part of the township.
This would also bring in Upper Canada Forest Group, a distributor of specialty wood products, who would also relocate to Puslinch, with shared amenities between the two companies including boardrooms, conference rooms, classrooms, a gym and a daycare.
Estill further explained the space would be larger than the two companies need and therefore envisioned a coworking space for some manufacturing as well as an incubator for food and agricultural technology companies which he said need more physical space than other tech businesses.
“We would be building a net-zero building, it would be world class and tie Puslinch to the innovation corridor,” Estill said, referencing the proximity the headquarters would have to the 401.
This $100-million development would house somewhere in the realm of 600 jobs, with Estill clarifying about 350 are existing jobs.
They’re looking to get this done quickly as those behind this project are seeking a Community Infrastructure and Housing Accelerator (CIHA) order from the province — which is similar to a Minister’s Zoning Order — to rezone the property in a more timely manner.
The land is located outside the Greenbelt but most of it is zoned secondary agriculture.
Estill explained only the municipality can apply for a CIHA but he wanted to help the township in any way possible.
When asked by Mayor James Seeley why they don’t do an Official Plan Amendment, Estill said it was a matter of speed and timing but also noted they were advised by the province to go this route and there is no other suitable land in the township .
Seeley wasn’t convinced this would be faster.
“I feel that council would need everything spelled out quite clearly with very little unknowns before they would support you,” Seeley said.
The mayor referenced some potential issues brought up by other councilors like truck traffic in the area, the cost of bringing services to the area and public consultation.
In terms of truck traffic, Estill said the business is not as truck heavy as one would think and most traffic would be on the Hanlon.
Public consultation would be a next step with Estill warning council there will be some NIMBYism but stressed the benefits will far outweigh any opposition.
with. Russell Hurst showed a lot of enthusiasm for the project despite some questions around planning matters.
“I think any time the region can attract new business, growth and jobs is a good thing,” Hurst said, adding he’ll leave it to staff to guide council through the next steps of the project.
Council accepted the presentation as information and approved a recommendation for a staff report on CIHA orders, send notice to nearby property owners providing relevant information on the proposal and to schedule a public information meeting in early-2023.