The City of Welland’s initiative to develop more industrial parks is facing significant resistance from the owner of a 150-year-old farm slated to be acquired by the city government.
Marsha Rempel is the fifth-generation owner of her family’s crop farm in the Niagara Region, which she says has been her home for as long as she can remember.
“It’s like it’s part of your lineage,” Rempel said in an interview with CBC News. “It’s part of your heritage. It’s roots. [The authorities] don’t understand the roots aspects of this.”
In early December, Welland’s city council approved the expropriation of land in the vicinity of the Highway 406 and Highway 140 corridors, citing a pressing need to support the manufacturing sector by developing industrial parks.
This included Rempel’s farm, which has been zoned as part of the Niagara Gateway Economic Zone for years now. Should a property owner refuse to sell despite “the offer of fair market value,” the city said it will move forward with its expropriation.
“[Our] priorities are to create new jobs for the city of Welland, and it’s the best fit for us right now,” said Steve Zorbas, Welland’s interim chief administrative officer.
Zorbas added that the city government has talked to Rempel on three occasions. It is alleged that Rempel repeatedly rebuffed these advances, saying that the city was using tactics similar to that of “schoolyard bullies.”
Rempel vowed to oppose the expropriation every step of the way, despite the toll the ongoing controversy has been taking on her.
“I will not give up,” Rempel said. “[The city’s] money is not going to replace what was lost. You can buy another house. But you cannot buy another home, and there’s a difference.”