On Friday, January 18th, there was an emergency Council meeting regarding the Unimin waterfront property.

At issue was an offer Unimin has received for the lands next to the Midland Marina from another aggregate company.

There was a motion put forward to put an “Interim Control By-Law” in place that would prevent the property from being sold until the Town could complete the Unimin Master Plan Study that was commissioned when the land was put up for sale.

This study is already underway and is scheduled to receive public input. The $70,000 cost of the study is non-recoverable.

The “Interim Control By-Law” was considered good planning practice according to our planner Wes Crown, and could have been reversed by Council at a later date.

One Councilor was on vacation and unable to vote on Friday, leaving eight to vote in total, including the Mayor. The result was a split/indecisive vote of 4-4.

This result clearly lacks majority direction on such an important matter, and given the stakes of the decision, is simply unacceptable.

This approximately 40 acre site with 3,300 feet of prime Georgian Bay shoreline has been occupied by Unimin for ~40 years, and many believe the unsightly nature of the aggregate pile has hampered development of the area.

This opportunity to make better use of the property may not arrive for another 20 years according to Mayor Gord McKay, and due to the strategic location of the Unimin lands, has the potential to impact the future prosperity of the Town on an unprecedented scale.

If we get this development right, it could usher in a new Golden Era for Midland.

We insist that Midland Council call another emergency council meeting to hold another vote to implement the Interim Control By-Law as per the Planning Act of Ontario, giving the community an opportunity to make a smart, long-term decision about the use of the Unimin property to maximize its potential for the benefit of everyone in the Town of Midland.

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Mayor Gord McKay had this to say about the matter in his regular weekly email newsletter:

“This past Friday, your Council held a special meeting to deal with one matter – how to protect the interests of the people of Midland in developing the Unimin lands that dominate our waterfront. The Town had learned this past Wednesday that the Unimin U.S. parent had received an offer to purchase the Unimin lands and was set to make a decision this past Friday. The Town asked them for a bit more time to prepare our offer but that was denied.

Town staff realizing that we could quickly lose control of our waterfront development vision recommended that we use a standard planning tool called an Interim Control By-law. The by-law would “pause” the situation for up to one year. The pause would give us time to complete the $70,000 Unimin lands study that the Town has embarked upon (see Thursday below) and to prepare a considered offer for Unimin.

The by-law was defeated by a vote of four to four.

At this time the Unimin lands are zoned for industrial and vacant-land purposes. Another aggregate operator could now set up on the site without any re-zoning. If that occurs the ability of Midland to direct the development of its waterfront will be hobbled for the next 20 years.

This will be the “hot topic” for the coming week.  If you have something to say, now is the time.”




  1. If you could spare a moment, i am looking for some clarity on a few thoughts I have listed below. I am just wondering if you could help?

    I am curious how the town could put a stop to this sale? the property is already zoned for this use, and has been used in this manner for the last 40 years.

    Why it is acceptable to spend $70,000 for a study on a piece of land, that is not even owned by the town?

    On the surface trying to stop this seems fishy, midlandcommunity didn’t seem too concerned with another waterfront business recently changing ownership. Why is this one so different? It sounds like the same thing but on a larger scale.

    Is the goal not to try and attract companies to come into town and set up shop?
    Perhaps we should explore the potential spin off jobs and other job creation potential before ruling this out entirely.

    • Hi Mary
      The water front has changed its function drastically since this plant was first put into operation.This started with the removal of the railway,elevators and the gear down of water based industry and shipping.Plants like Unimin and the purposed new owners Coco Paving Inc.( are automated for efficiency, did not and will not provide an effective long term job strategy.We just have look at our neighbour Collingwood and there winning strategies to deal with similar problems ,the lose of the ship building yards and other industries. Tourism was their answer, our harbour is a gateway to Georgian Bay and our Blue Mountain.
      The downtown and water front has a great deal of potential riding on what happens on this site! Unless you like big piles of aggregate filling your view and your lungs?
      If they plan to manufacture asphalt on sight, the smell and potential environment issues will not attract people to our area.
      Yes, we need industrial growth, so consider the buildings and area’s on Hwy. 12 that are empty and waiting for candidates, and a town council to right off back taxes and send the welcome wagon out.
      Both “Central Marine” and “The Boat House Eatery”were recently sold and both fit the criteria for expansion of tourism and are used frequently.FYI each place employs more then Unimin’s 17 employees on a smaller foot prints.Imagine what a resort,boardwalk with shops would do!
      There was an offer put forth previous to this one by developer ,but not considered as Unimin has already made there minds up i.e.;
      “Badgeley Island Quarry an asset of Unimin Canada Ltd”
      “On August 1st, 2012, Coco Paving purchased Badgeley Island Quarry located in Sudbury and its licenced quarry of over 1,790 acres providing aggregates and silica sand.”

      Now you don’t think they bought this without a harbour to unload it this aggregate and gave Uinimin a way out for both sites.
      This deal was done a while ago the question is what’s going on with town council and the four coco supporters on it? Thats fishy! And will be their legacy.

      Dont let this happen

      Jim Attwoood
      Zena Pendelbury
      Bob Jeffrey
      Jack Charlebois

  2. I respect your ideas noted above, however, I feel that if the town wants to have a say in what happens with this land, they should come to the table with an offer to purchase. That way they would have a say in what happens with the land and how it is developed in future years.
    It appears that doing a study on this land would be a complete waste of money if in fact this sale goes through. Which is why there is an urgency to put a stop to it. If at the end of the study coco paving is still interested in purchasing this land what happens then. The town holds a $70000 document that says what they would like to see this property used for. There is just one problem. They still don’t own it!!!

    I don’t feel that those councillors you have listed are in bed with coco paving, in fact I would argue that a few wouldn’t even know what they do, I think they are standing up what makes sense

    Please don’t get me wrong i am all for a new Vision for the future of midlands waterfront, I just don’t think that this is fair for the current owners of this property. I don’t think anyone would appreciate the town telling them who they could or couldn’t sell their home or business to.

    • The fact that the town does not own the land isn’t the issue. The town’s study will provide us with the possible uses for this land and that can be taken to Unimin so that they may sell to a company (or anyone) for those specific land uses. The study has to be done by an outside source because the town would have a bias in doing this and it wouldn’t be legal. With this report the town has a right to re-zone the property and as long as this is done before they sell, we could see something down there other than more of the same for the next 30 or 40 years.
      It’s up to the people of Midland to decide what kind of development should be on our waterfront, and because this is such a time sensitive issue, your support is essential NOW.
      I hope this helps you, I didn’t understand it much myself until recently.

  3. The fact that the town doesn’t own the land is EXACTLY the issue, which is why they want to stop the sale before the land is sold. I agree the study will Identify what the property could be used for. But then what, council will dictate who Unimin can sell this property to and for what use? Ill assume you are a home owner. Lets say you want to sell your home. And let’s say your property is the ideal location for an amazing development opportunity. You have a great offer on your home, and they are ready to buy. All of the sudden the town says wait, you can’t sell your home until we’ve completed a study to see what we want to do with your property. Oh and by the way, after we’ve completed this study, we are going to tell you who you can sell your house to. Does this sound good, because this is how I see things playing out.
    If the town wants a say,then buy the property, otherwise, I see them paying for another lawsuit that should have never happened in the first place.

    Please correct me if I am wrong here.

  4. Apart from all of the issues mentioned, there is a concern about the health issues caused by the operation of a silica plant. Let’s do what we can to get rid of this hazzard now.

  5. Stewart Strathearn for | January 21, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Reply

    Council debated the imposition of an Interim Control Bylaw at least twice in the months prior to last Friday’s vote. In both instances it was decided not to impose the Interim Control at that time since the Town was engaged with Unimin in looking at the future uses of the lands. Indeed Unimin held a seat on the Unimin Lands Master Planning Committee. Unimin was fully aware that the Town wished to complete a study of potential uses for the site excluding further industrial uses. The $70,000 study would involve all stakeholders interested in the future of Midland’s waterfront and was being fast tracked.

    On August 1st, 2012, Coco Paving purchased, from Unimin, Badgeley Island Quarry located in Sudbury and its licensed quarry of over 1,790 acres providing aggregates and silica sand. It has been said that this purchase entailed a right of first refusal on the Midland Unimin property. Nonetheless, it appears that Council only just found out about the potential sale of the Midland lands to a purchaser believed to be Coco.

    Now aware of a pending sale the Town requested that Unimin grant the Town the time for due diligence prior to making an offer. The Towns request apparently was rebuffed by Unimin with the latter claiming it needed to deal with the offer in hand. Realizing that it was left with no other choice the Interim Control Bylaw was brought forward to Council last Friday.

    The notion that Midland should buy the land was acknowledged during Friday’s Council meeting. Indeed, the Councilors were again reminded of the Town’s request for time and Unimin’s rejection of that request. The Councilors were reminded of the time needed to complete such due diligence as an appraisal, and put together an offer. The rest is history.

    Arguments about property rights remain highly political and subjective given they are still not found in either the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. While people will acknowledge the ownership issue and empathize, it is clear that many believe that more is at stake here, and that the Interim Control is required. The Ontario Planning Act provides for the use of Interim Control measures to slow down changes in land use until a proper study can be undertaken. The Bylaw has effect for one year with an option to extend a further 12 months. The Interim Control Measure is there for just the type of instance that is occurring with the Unimin site; other wise known as Midland’s waterfront.

    See you at Wednesday’s meeting of Council Mary.

  6. Looks to me like your only option at this point is to carry on with the study, and if it makes sense to redevelop, offer to purchase from the new owner at an inflated price, or expropriate at a later time.

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