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Amazon distribution centre in S.E. Oakville concerns residents

Amazon Distribution Centre
Amazon distribution centre in S.E. Oakville concerns residents
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Kim Arnott

Kim Arnott

Kim Arnott is a graduate of McMaster University and Sheridan College’s journalism program, her reporting has appeared in dozens of daily and community newspapers, magazines and specialty publications over the last two decades.

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A vacant Cornwall Road warehouse is slated to be a new Amazon distribution centre, and neighbours are concerned it will bring traffic jams and truck noise.

Owners of the warehouse, near the northwest corner of Cornwall and Ford Drive, have asked the town for permission to expand the parking lot and add a second driveway access to accommodate the e-retail giant.

Amazon Distribution Centre

Amazon Distribution Centre at Cornwall just west of Ford Drive – Click Map for a larger image © OpenStreetMap contributors CC BY-SA

More than 1,500 vehicle trips will be made in and out of the property each day, according to a traffic study filed to support the site plan application.

The proposal worries homeowners living directly across Cornwall Road, says Elizabeth Chalmers, president of the Joshua Creek Residents Association.

“We can’t stop the warehouse,” she says. “What we would like, to the fullest extent possible, is to mitigate any negative impacts on residents with respect to noise and vehicles.”

Increased traffic volume

In existence for about 23 years, the warehouse has previously housed such tenants as UPS and Gillette.
But, Chalmers says, the Amazon distribution centre will generate a much higher volume of traffic, with vehicles turning in and out of the site and potentially jamming up Cornwall Road.

The traffic study provided to the town says the site will operate 24 hours a day, with about 200 employees unloading incoming tractor trailer trucks and loading parcels into delivery vehicles.
The round-the-clock operation also has neighbours worried about possible noise caused by warning beeps of reversing trucks.

New Amazon distribution centre on Cornwall Road

Click to access Site Plan Application – Image Credit: Town of Oakville

Ward 3 councillors Janet Haslett-Theall and Dave Gittings have heard the neighborhood concerns about the new tenant.

“It’s a different way of doing business and this warehouse wasn’t set up for that method of delivery,” says Gittings.

He says adjusting traffic signals might address volume issues, but if not, the town could require the addition of dedicated turn lanes or queuing areas on the property.

“We’ll have to look at the elements that can be put in place to make sure traffic flows and that it is safe,” said Haslett-Theall. “I don’t think we can do anything about the volume, unfortunately.”

While site plan decisions are generally made by the town’s planning director, the two ward councillors have convinced their council colleagues to give the Amazon distribution centre a closer look.

Town council will now make a final decision on the issue, following a public presentation by planning staff and the opportunity for community members to express concerns and suggestions.

Future property development

One holdup for property owner H&R REIT is that a small portion of the property is covered by a provincial zoning order restricting future development.

The company has asked the province to allow the parking lot expansion and “remove restrictions should any future development be contemplated.”

Janet Haslett-Theall

Ward 3 Town Councillor Janet Haslett-Theall

Chalmers says the Joshua Creek, Chartwell Maple Grove, and Clearview residents associations have all officially told the province they are opposed to granting “open-ended approval of undefined future land development.”

“It’s always a concern to have undefined development,” she says. “This is industrial zoning and it is across the street from residential. They abut each other.”

The Ward 3 councillors added their voice to that chorus, asking the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing not to remove restrictions on future development that cannot be evaluated.

“We don’t know what’s being contemplated, or if anything is,” said Gittings. “Whenever you have that unknown, that what concerns us.”

Dave Gittings

Ward 3 Town and Regional Councillor Dave Gittings

While an Amazon distribution centre will bring economic development to the Oakville area, Chalmers says the residents group has an obligation to look out for the neighbourhood.

“It’s not our role to say that’s good or bad. It is our role to see that residents are not adversely affected by it.”

South-East Amazon Distribution Centre site plan application 

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