Wilmot land acquisition puts local council between rock and a hard place

By Matt Hutcheson

What will become of the 770 acres of prime farm land in Wilmot township remains to be seen but the fight by landowners to keep their properties continues.

The Region of Waterloo has chosen the properties surrounded by Highway 7, Wilmot Center Road, Nafzinger Line and Bleams Road as the site of future development and has begun the process of acquiring the land. They have been met with resistance by the landowners who say they are being lowballed and bullied out of generational farms.

Last week, Wilmot Township councillors Kris Wilkinson and Harvir Sidhu held a press conference asking the Region of Waterloo to disclose the technical details that led to the selection of those particular properties.

Throughout the entire process the region has claimed its hands are tied by the Municipal Act, which prevents the details of a closed session from being publicized. All decisions surrounding the land selection process has been held behind closed doors.

So, when Wilmot council is pressed for answers, they have few to provide.

Wilmot Ward 1 Coun. Stewart Cressman told The Mike Farwell Show, as a council they are in a tough spot because they recognize the plight of the landowners but also understand that growth is inevitable.

“As a set of councillors, we campaigned on Wilmot being more than a bedroom community,” he said. “We wanted employment opportunities for residents with sustainable, good paying jobs.”

At the same time, Cressman says council has a duty to its constituents.

“It’s a challenge,” he said. “We always said, as a council, we want them (the landowners) to be treated fairly. I guess it’s a challenge to determine what is fair.”

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