Protesters gather outside regional headquarters, opposing proposed Wilmot land expropriation

Dozens of protesters gathered outside regional headquarters on Frederick Street in Kitchener on Wednesday evening to voice their opposition to the possible expropriation of 770 acres of farmland in Wilmot Township.

At least 30 protesters gathered holding signs reading “Fight for our farmland” and “Save the farms” before gathering inside for the regional council meeting.

Susanna Compton, a delegate speaking on behalf of the protesters during the meeting, alleged local elected officials have “mistreated and disrespected” her neighbours repeatedly, calling it “unacceptable.”

“Councillors, how much clearer to we need to be: We are not a willing host for this industrial project,” Compton said. “We need innovative solutions to development needs that do not include forcing land owners to sell against their will.”

Compton said she grew up on a farm across the road from where the land assembly is located. She said that while she understands the need for economic growth and development, farmers and the environment should not be abandoned in that process.

“This land assembly in Wilmot is a failure of innovation and creativity, and I believe that we can do better,” Compton said. “We have some of the most creative and innovative minds in Canada right here. How can we innovate to provide industrial land instead of taking it from farmers who are using it in a productive way.”

A recent statement from the region to CityNews 570 said assembling “shovel-ready land” will secure thousands of new jobs, and bring billions of dollars in investment to the economy, which is crucial because of the rising population.

Two councillors were in Wilmot last week for the region to disclose technical details on the land assembly. So far, the region has not indicated what the 770 acres of land would be used for if expropriated.

Two town hall meetings are also planned at the New Hamburg Community Centre on Thursday June 20 and Monday June 24. Both events start a 7 p.m.

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