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Land owners 'devastated' with Waterloo Region's plan to purchase properties

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The Region of Waterloo wants to purchase land in Wilmot Township for, what it calls, future “shovel-ready projects.”

According to Alfred Lowrick, they’re trying to purchase 770 acres of land across from six different farm properties – between Nafziger Road, Bleams Road and Wilmot Centre Road.

Lowrick said those farm owners are feeling blindsided by the potential sale.

"They're devastated,” he explained to CTV News. “It's terrible.”

Alfred Lowrick talks to land owners in Wilmot on March 22, 2024. (Colton Wiens/CTV Kitchener)

While Lowrick is not directly impacted by the plan, his mother-in-law is. On March 9, she found out the region wants to purchase her 85 acres.

“My wife was at home and she was given a letter and it said someone will come back and will want to talk about the expropriation of my mother-in-law’s land,” Lowrick said.

According to Lowrick, the owners have not received official expropriation documents. So far, it’s an offer to purchase.

"We've had some legal counsel already on this and everyone we've talked to seems to indicate that it would be very, very difficult to stop the process if it is expropriation," he explained.

Lowrick wouldn’t share what the offers are, but said each property has a different value. Local newspaper, the Waterloo Region Record, previously reported that one of the owners was offered $35,000 per acre.

Alfred Lowrick talks to land owners in Wilmot on March 22, 2024. (Colton Wiens/CTV Kitchener)

Lowrick said the landowners feel the money being offered is insufficient, but ultimately, they’re not concerned about the money. They’re more worried about the disruption it causes both to them and potentially the community.

"It's the businesses disruption, the disruption to the community. It's more than just dollars and cents," said Lowrick.

He added that land is hard to come by these days and finding a new property to farm would be tough.

"These are really good lands for production. You're not going to find that three miles down the road. You're going to push the prices up too, and you're going to try to do the best you can for your needs. So you're going to go to another farmer down the road and say, are you ready to sell? Most often they're not.”

Lowrick spoke to regional council on Wednesday. At that meeting, he said some owners have farmed their land since 1869. The region, meanwhile, had little response.

“Thank you very much, all of you, for coming in and Alfred for speaking,” said Chair Karen Redman after the presentation from delegates. “We unfortunately can’t, given the confidential nature of this subject, [and] are not in a position to comment or provide a response.”

“The Region of Waterloo and Wilmot Township are partnering on land readiness to create shovel-ready sites to attract economic investments and create jobs. Land assembly is underway to create shovel-ready sites for large-scale economic investment to further support Waterloo Region’s economic vitality as it grows to one million residents by 2050,” the region said in an email to CTV News.

The region didn’t indicate if any plans were in the works for the location, but said its official plan includes a provision to plan for suitable “mega-sites” to support new, large-scale employment opportunities that typically range between 200 and 400 hectares in size and support large-scale manufacturing operations.

Lowrick said he has contacted the local MPP Catherine Fife. The land owners want to attend Monday’s council meeting in Wilmot, but so far, they haven’t been able to register as delegates.

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