Why Kitchener won't be the new home for Maple Leaf
Published Thursday, October 20, 2011 4:45PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 6:19AM EDT
The loss of 1,200 jobs when Schneiders closes its Kitchener plant is bothering a lot of people the day after the company's announcement.
Many want to know why Kitchener, with its historic connection to the Schneiders brand, won't get the new plant.
Maple Leaf says the 87-year-old Courtland Avenue plant is inefficient and cannot be modernized.
Instead, Maple Leaf chose an industrial park in Hamilton, over 23 other locations. The company's Chief Strategy Officer, Doug Dodds, says Hamilton meets its needs.
"It had the right land configuration that could meet our time lines. It had close connection to the 400-series highways. We knew the community well. We have three other plants in Hamilton."
At Hamilton City Hall today, Mayor Bob Bratina said he's thrilled the $395-million plant and 670 jobs are coming to the steel city.
"They have put this huge investment in our community."
Some Schneiders workers leaving the Courtland Avenue plant Thursday afternoon say local governments should have done more to keep Maple Leaf in Kitchener.
"It's been a long time. It's part of the staple of Kitchener. It would be nice to stay" says Carlos, who has been with the company for six years.
Municipalities here say they did everything they could to try to get Maple Leaf to build the new plant here.
The Region, Kitchener, Cambridge and North Dumfries Township worked together and came up with three possible locations for Maple Leaf to consider.
"We thought we had a good option for them and we thought we were still in the game right up to the last week" says Regional Chair Ken Seiling.
He says there isn't much municipalities can do.
"The law in Ontario has been there since the 1930s. It prohibits municipalities from offering incentives to business, so we can't offer tax incentives or we'll do this or we'll do that."
Earlier, the Schneiders Employees Association President, Dennis Lesperance said workers are enormously disappointed Maple Leaf decided not to reinvest in Kitchener or the Schneiders workforce.