A proposed flour mill on Shantz Station Road moved a step closer to reality this week when Woolwich council approved a zone change.
Parrish and Heimbecker Limited is hoping to expand the grain storage at Shantz Station Terminal east of Breslau and build a flour mill on the site.
“It’s in a good location,” Howard Rowley, head of P&H Milling Group, said of the site. “If we are going to do an expansion, it’s a natural place to do it.”
The flour mill is intended to replace a mill in Woodbridge that burned down in 2008. Rather than rebuild the facility, at a site that was being slowly absorbed by the growing urban area, the company decided to expand the Breslau site.
“They decided that rather than build it there, they would build it beside the existing grain elevators and use the same railroad system to bring in some wheat,” explained planner Sam Head.
The mill would process a combination of local wheat and wheat from Western Canada. Rowley explained that the quality of the local supply changes so much from year to year that the company can’t rely solely on locally-grown wheat.
Parrish and Heimbecker built the railroad siding and grain elevators a number of years ago, a process that included lowering the road under the bridge where the rail line crosses the highway so trucks could get through.
The zoning on the site currently permits the rail transfer facility on one hectare of the 38.5-hectare property and imposes a maximum storage capacity of 17,000 tonnes. The amended zoning would lift that maximum tonnage and expand the area of operation to 2.5 hectares.
The amount of grain storage on site is set to nearly double. As well as supplying the flour mill on site, Parrish and Heimbecker ships grain to other mills from the terminal. The company is concerned about the possibility the supply-managed Canadian Wheat Board might be dissolved and having more storage on site would mean the company is less reliant on “just in time” delivery. Greater storage also allows it to buy and store grain when prices are favourable.
The exact size and capacity of the mill hasn’t been settled yet, but the additional silos and proposed 24-metre (80-foot) tall flour mill would be located further away from the existing houses on the far side of the rail line, Head explained.
The township’s planning report concluded the scale of the expansion is still compatible with the surrounding farmland, but noted that future requests to expand the site would likely not be supportable.
With the zoning change application approved, the next step for the company is to submit a site plan for approval. If that process goes smoothly, Head said, construction could start as early as this summer.