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City rules silos must go, residents skeptical

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River Heights residents are one step closer to getting eight controversial metal silos removed.
However, they’re concerned the city’s not keeping them involved in the process.

During an appeal hearing on Jan. 15, the city council’s property and development committee called for the industrial silos, which sit alongside the Burlington Santa Fe rail line on Lindsay Street near Mathers Ave., to be removed.


The silos, which were erected by Fort Distributors, a shipper leasing property from the railway, appeared last September, with no notice to River Heights Residents. Residents immediately voiced their concerns to the city, and the city issued a by-law infraction notice and ordered the storage tanks to be removed by mid-December.


However, at the Jan. 15 hearing, Fort Distributor’s lawyer,Gord Steeves argued because the silos are on land leased from the railway and under federal jurisdiction, the silos should not have to be removed.


There is a chance the matter will be appealed in court.


Judy Plotkin and fellow resident Debra Black were prompted to spearhead the creation of the River Heights Residents Association shortly after the silos appeared to improve communication between residents and other area stakeholders.

Plotkin said residents only learned of the appeal hearing a matter of days before it happened, leaving them little time to prepare.


Despite this, the residents association mobilized and within a few days they had collected 91 responses expressing concern regarding the silos, and were able to get a group together for a delegation at City Hall during the appeal hearing.


"A lot of people feel disempowered," Plotkin said.


While Plotkin said residents wouldn’t be surprised if the matter gets appealed to the courts, if it does, it would be tough on the neighbourhood.


"We’ve had enough. We’re tired of these kinds of things," Plotkin said.


So, the RHRA will continue to take action.


Plotkin said regardless of the outcome, the residents association will continue to meet, and grow as an organization.


"This is just one issue, and it’s a priority issue right now," she said.


The RHRA has a meeting planned for Feb. 19 with Joyce Bateman and Michael Robinson, the city planner for the area.


"(We want) to educate ourselves around how the city works as it relates to our community," Plotkin said.


"We want to engage (Robinson) to help us preserve and protect the neighbourhood… We’re looking to begin proper community engagement and dialogue as to what’s happening in our community, " Plotkin said.


At press time, there was no time or location set for the RHRA’s Feb. 19 meeting. For updates, follow the association on Twitter @RiverHeightsRA, or on Facebook at tinyurl.com/rhra2013.  If you wish to sign up for the association’s email database, email river.heights.residents.assoc@gmail.com

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