Dave Kewley The Hamilton Spectator - Oct. 29, 2004
Grape grower Steve Fernick is very disappointed with a surprising
development in the greenbelt draft plan that has classified
his four farms as tender fruit land.
"I feel I and the Town of Grimsby have been raped," said
Fernick, who has four farms on Elmtree Road that total about
The grape grower, who was born on the family farm in 1939,
said only half of his land is viable for farming.
"We grow Niagara and concord grapes and these days they are
used only for juice but in the past few years the market for
juice grapes has fallen 34 per cent and we're being paid less
per tonne than it costs to produce them," Fernick said.
The provincial government announced yesterday it had added
another million acres to the greenbelt plan throughout the
Golden Horseshoe and some of that extra land included all
the land in south Grimsby between Mud Street and the Niagara
"Now the government has frozen all this land and nobody will
ever buy it," said Fernick, who is near retirement and a few
years ago was encouraged by the possibility that the town
was considering the development of several hamlets in his
area above the escarpment. He hoped that one day he might
sell off some of his land for development of 0.4-hectare estate
"This is definitely going to affect my future livelihood,"
said Fernick, who attended the green belt task force meeting
in St. Catharines to present soil tests proving his land was
poor agriculturally. "But it seems they really didn't listen
Grimsby's regional councillor Debbie Zimmerman supports Fernick's
argument, saying most of the land above the escarpment is
marginal farmland at best. After looking at the maps released
with the draft plan yesterday, Zimmerman said Grimsby and
Lincoln have been left with nowhere to grow.
"Their ability to grow their assessment base has been nullified
... and that could soon see taxes in these towns shoot through
the roof," the regional councillor said, explaining the future
growth potential of a community provides its best chance of
"The inclusion of all the land out to the town's south boundary
came as a complete surprise.'' She added the only promising
development is that the government has recognized the transportation
deficiencies in the peninsula and the need for future economic
transport corridors such as the proposed mid-peninsula highway.
Howard Staff, who runs a 1,200-hectare grape growing operation
in the Jordon area, said he's shocked that the government
released the draft plan before the submission of an economic
impact study. "They've zoned us into a corner and nobody's
asked if we can make a profit. It looks like we're just going
to become serfs or keepers of the land," Staff said. "And
on the human side, it means that our children and their children
are going to be forced away from our communities because they
won't be able to find a job or build a home.''