‘Cooking-with-gas time’: Project could bring 2,000 jobs to Bradford
Highlight Motors’ offering includes a warehouse, head office, repair shop and several hundred parking lots, all facing Highway 400
New development proposed along Sideroad 5 and Line 6 could add around 2,000 jobs to Bradford West Gwillimbury.
City councilors learned of Highlight Motors’ proposed large-scale development totaling nearly 500,000 square feet on 41 acres during a December 13 public meeting. The complex would include a warehouse, headquarters, repair facility, and several hundred parking spaces.
With the project expected to bring in nearly $11 million in development costs, not only would some councilors have happily given the official go-ahead for the project during the meeting, but they likely would have done so on the spot, shovels in hand, to break the ground.
count. Jonathan Scott highlighted the development of this country as something the three previous mayors – Frank Jonkman, Doug White and Rob Keffer – had all wanted for Bradford West Gwillimbury, and it was important for Mayor James Leduc to disrupt one of his campaign plans to leverage the urban commercial property.
“This application suggests it’s time to cook with gas,” he said. “Two thousand jobs and a massive 500,000 square foot building. Furnishings; a third corporate headquarters coming to Bradford this calendar year…. From an economic development point of view, I think it’s just fantastic.”
First Gulf, on behalf of Highlight Motors, requested changes to the official plan and zoning code for consideration by the Council affecting eight lots: 2319, 2329, 2261, 2249, 2279 Sideroad 5 and 3603, 3651, 3695 Line 6. The lots are currently empty except for a junkyard at 3651 line 6 which will remain in operation for two years after being sold to Highlight Motors.
Highlight Motors was founded in 2007 and is currently based in Vaughan. The company, which specializes in cross-border trucking, logistics and warehousing, has five offices in the greater Toronto area and three offices in the United States.
The move to Bradford West Gwillimbury will ensure Highlight Motors is “in the right place”.
“They are really excited to be in Bradford. That’s why they made this significant investment,” said Andrew Sgro, Development Director of First Gulf. “They are really focused on ensuring that there is good access to public transport, that there is a strong workforce and that Bradford is growing significantly. They want to be here and really put down roots in the community.”
In order to put down those roots, the Fraser Creek company must overcome a significant obstacle.
Fraser Creek is a tributary of the West Holland River that fragments portions of the site and flows southwest making it difficult to traverse and develop. As part of the proposal, Highlight Motors wants to change the direction of Fraser Creek by moving it to the east of the lands, where it will run between the new campus and Highway 400.
count. Ben Verkaik suggested moving the creek was “quite a hill to move”.
Sgro wanted to allay the city council’s concerns by highlighting the collection of engineering firms working specifically on the Fraser Creek relocation to ensure the meandering watercourse remains safe and unaffected by either the works on the site or the salt runoff from Highway 400 is hindered.
Considering what they’ve been able to do with brooks in the past, Coun. Peter Dykie is confident that the move to Fraser Creek will be a success and that working with First Gulf is the right move for Highlight Motors.
“I was very suspicious when they showed us (their) plans in 2006,” Dykie said, “but when (they) bought all the land here at (County Road) 88 and they came in with a vision to close the creek.” embarrassed, you guys did it. The Summerlyn subdivision has been very successful.”
Final approval for the move will be granted by the city in consultation with its engineering department and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA). Sgro stated that LSRCA has been “great to work with” so far and that the developer is awaiting his comments on the proposal.
“[It’s]obviously a pretty significant move, and there has to be a good reason to justify it,” Sgro said.
This justification must go beyond the efficient development of the property or the logistical advantages of not using bridges, both of which were mentioned in his submissions to the Council
“Especially in the context of current development, being able to relocate the watercourse, protect it, move it away from other uses and thrive and help it in our design really improves,” he said. “I would say , it was important to give him that kind of space… just make sure he’s protected and given the right amount of attention.”