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Landowners protest at regional headquarters over Wilmot land deal

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About two dozen people gathered outside of the Region of Waterloo headquarters on Wednesday evening, to protest the region’s controversial bid to acquire 770 acres of Wilmot farmland.

The region is hoping to acquire the farmland bordered by Nafziger Road, Bleams Road, and Wilmot Centre Road. The region said the purchase would guarantee shovel-ready land for development, but hasn’t specified what the development would be.

Protestors are demanding answers about what comes next. Some are worried about the environmental impacts and loss of prime agricultural land, and some said they simply don’t like the idea of a large industrial site popping up in that rural area.

“It’s going to affect that whole area,” said Fran Strassburger, a landowner. “It’s so gorgeous. You just sit there and all you see is land and hills and it’s peaceful. It’s just disgusting that it is going to be gone.

"I don't understand why farmland has to be taken away and people's lives destroyed."

Strassburger lives on 25 acres of land in the area and plans to live there for the rest of her life – if she can.

"Find some place that's not being used," said Strassburger. "It's just disgusting that it's going to be gone."

Protestors gathered outside of Region of Waterloo headquarters on June 19, 2024. (Tyler Kelaher/CTV News)

Susanna Compton grew up at her family farm across the road from the land assembly site. On Wednesday, she addressed regional council to oppose the proposed land acquisition and the region's threat of expropriation.

"We are not a willing host for this industrial project," said Compton. "We need innovative solutions to development needs that do not include forcing landowners to sell against their will."

Some landowners claim they have been threatened with expropriation if they don’t strike a deal.

The 770 acres are divided between six farmland properties and six residential properties. CTV News learned that one piece of residential land has already been sold to the region with two others pending. Those three properties make up less than one per cent of the total 770 acres.

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