Despite vocal opposition from a large contingent of Rosedale residents, council gave it's approval to the massive expansion of Tycrop's McGrath Road manufacturing facility.
The local company was asking council to allow the company to build a multi-storey office building, expand its manufacturing facility. It also asked council to retroactively approve a sewage treatment facility already operating. The rezonings would also see a residential properties now occupied by a 100-year-old house turned into a parking lot.
Tycrop co-owner Gary Teichrob told council at the start of Tuesday's public hearing meeting that the expansion would allow his company to hire some 200 more employees. And by building a more modern manufacturing facility, he said the new plant would cut down on noise and make the company a better neighbour.
"This modernization would allow Tycrop to remain competitive in the world market," Teichrob told council. "The modernization would make for a quieter, greener facility." He envisioned a tree- and sidewalked-lined McGrath Road, and the elimination of many unsightly fences.
"We believe these changes will make Rosedale a nice place. It's already a great place. We love it."
The hearing had nothing to do with a large parcel of farmland south of the railroad Tycrop is attempting to remove from the Agriculture Land Reserve (ALR). But it still attracted complaints from Rosedale residents, who told council that their small community wouldn't benefit from Tycrop's massive expansion.
In fact, some said Tycrop hasn't been particularly good for Rosedale even before the company's expansion plans were revealed.
"I don't see anyting going good for anyone in Rosedale other than Tycrop," Munro Ave. resident Robert Mailer said. "It's gone too far."
Yale Road resident Caroline Rusher agreed.
"When we first moved to this area, it was a very different place," Rusher said. "It has changed a lot in the last five years. A lot of the businesses have shut down."
Rusher called herself pro-change. But she said that the changes proposed would damage the core of Rosedale.
"Villages are supposed to grow outwards, not move."
Others took issue with Tycrop's approach to the redevelopment, including it's bulldozing of houses before the rezoning was improved and construction of its sewage treatment plant before council granted its approval.
"This has been frustrating for us because it's really changed the face of our community," said Heather Ratzlaff.
"The situation has gotten completely out of hand already," added Peter Sinnott. "It's a situation that should never have been allowed to happen in the first place."
Diane Armitage questioned whether the development was contingent on Tycrop being able to remove a tract of farmland south of the railroad from the ALR.
And Roger Tweedle said the community couldn't afford to lose the heritage house at 51380 Yale Road.
But Mayor Sharon Gaetz and all five councillors present (Coun. Ken Huttema was absent) declared themselves in favour of the rezoning.
Gaetz called the meeting a "win-win" and said many of the complaints regarding noise and fences could be resolved using bylaws currently on the books and with dialogue between both parties. She also implored the Tycrop owners to remind their employees to be good neighbours and patronize local businesses.
"I think Rosedale is a very vibrant community and it's only going to thrive more with the addition of jobs," she said. She told residents that the tax receipts from the company are also not to be discounted.
"The community should know that industry pays your freight," she said. "They pay far more in taxes than residential does. They are ones who are responsible for things that we enjoy here in our city because of the taxes that we have."
But she also reminded Tycrop that locals will be keeping a close eye on the company.
Coun. Stewart McLean agreed, telling residents: "I think down the road it can be an addition to Rosedale rather than something you don't like."
The only councillor to express reservations about the plan was Coun. Jason Lum.
"I think this plan is supportable," he said, while noting that he wasn't "jumping up for joy" while doing so.
Lum said Chilliwack needed the jobs Tycrop provides.
"There's been some talk about taking the plant and moving it to industrial areas that are zoned that way in Chilliwack," he explained. The reality of manufacturing these days is that if Tycrop up and leaves, they're not going to move to industrial zoned land in Chilliwack, they're going to move . . . south in the United States where land is much much cheaper."