Uplands residents in Regina concerned about site of planned canola-crushing facility

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WATCH: There's been excitement around Viterra's announcement for a canola-crushing facility in Regina, but not everyone feels the same. Taz Dhaliwal spoke with residents in the Uplands area who are opposed to the plan of a big industrial facility in their backyard – May 10, 2021

When Bev Leung — a longtime resident of the Uplands neighborhood — heard about Viterra’s plans to build a large canola-crushing facility near her home, she said many concerns crossed her mind.

“We just feel that this is not the proper move by the city, to have a large — one of the largest in the world, actually — canola-crushing plant in a one-mile distance from a vibrant community,” Leung said.

She adds neighbours are also very concerned about the strong smell that would come from the facility, along with depreciating property value, possible accidents within the facility and an influx of traffic.

Read more: Viterra building world-class canola-crushing plant in Regina

“We don’t want it to be degraded by industry, and that’s not to say we don’t want industry. Of course we want economic development, we want growth here, but there’s a right place for everything and in the backyards of homes where people and children live is not the right place,” said Pamela Brown, another resident in the Uplands area.

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Leung and Brown say they feel their concerns aren’t being adequately addressed.

“There’s a lot of emotions going on from anger to frustration to being ignored of our wants,” Leung stated.

“We’ve had to adjust many things while we’ve been living here already, the (Co-op refinery) upgrader is five miles away, the train is right behind me,” she adds.

In a statement to Global News, Viterra says:

“The site we’ve selected for our new crush facility is located in the heart of the industrial zone, which has the supporting road and rail infrastructure, as well as strong access to labour. Prior to making our announcement, we engaged closely with the City of Regina to discuss our plans for the site, and ensured it aligns with their plans to foster additional growth and economic investment in the city.

“Our top priority across our asset network is safety and ensuring that we act responsibly when operating in our communities.”

Read more: Cargill planning to build $350M canola processing plant in Regina

Viterra’s response goes on to say all regulatory conditions will be met, and that they will be following best practices at the plant, as practiced at their other plants.

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Viterra also says it will be utilizing “modern, state of the art technology in the construction of this plant, that will minimize any potential disruptions, including air emissions, odour and noise. As well, all truck traffic to and from the facility will follow designated truck routes.”

The statement ends by saying this is a “substantial investment” the company is making, and that they appreciate the support of the City of Regina.

Viterra expects this project will have a long-lasting positive local economic impact, both in terms of employment in relation to the facility’s construction and permanent employment once the plant is up and running.

On Tuesday evening, Ward 7 Regina City Councillor Terina Shaw will be hosting a virtual town hall over Facebook answering resident’s questions about this plan.

The project still has to go through processes of negotiation and finalization of various permits, licensing, agreements with third parties, and final approvals internally and externally.

The company’s target goal is to to be operational by late 2024.

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