Caledon residents ask for compensation after secretive process to approve massive warehouse
Rice Group

Caledon residents ask for compensation after secretive process to approve massive warehouse

“It is my expectation that, when requesting an MZO, municipal Councils have done their due diligence and conducted proper consultation in their communities, including with the public and other impacted stakeholders, before the local municipal Council sends any request for an MZO to me for consideration.”

This was the response from Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark to questions from Caledon resident Kathleen Wilson regarding a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) to turn a 500-acre lot in Tullamore, in east Caledon, into a large warehouse complex.

At a public information meeting held June 13, town residents filled the council chambers, demanding answers about the process that unfolded leading to the issuing of an MZO for the warehouse development within existing greenspace. There was no consultation with residents prior to the approval for the controversial plan.

“This is not public consultation … This is public informing, after the fact and after the decision has been made,” community activist Irene Ford said. “I don't typically come to council chambers and speak this strongly. But I just fundamentally cannot understand how we have gotten to this place.”


The draft plan consists of several industrial blocks in southwest Caledon between Torbram and Airport Roads north of Mayfield Road.

(Rice Group)


The MZO for 12245 Torbram Road was handed down to the Town of Caledon by the PC government in September. It was never requested by council, and the MZO actually expanded the scope of the original development application from Rice Group by approximately 130 acres. It was revealed by Town staff in a planning and development committee meeting on April 11 that the MZO was requested independently by a former member of council. It was then uncovered through an FOI request filed by Wilson that the MZO was sought by former mayor Allan Thompson

Both the Environmental Registry of Ontario and Minister Clark alluded to the MZO being supported by the Town of Caledon. This is not correct. Thompson wrote his letter without informing or seeking approval from his fellow council members or staff. Staff had assessed the Rice Group’s request for an MZO when it emerged in January 2022, but never came back to council with a recommendation to support it.

Town staff explained to The Pointer that the matter was never brought back to the chambers because a motion previously passed by council requires that in order for an MZO to be voted on, the following must be completed: a public information meeting; a staff report recommending approval; ensurance of conformity with the Official Plan, Provincial Policy Statement and Conservation Authorities; and a statement justifying the purpose of the MZO for the public good. These steps meant to protect Caledon’s vital greenspaces and the public interest were not taken on the matter of 12245 Torbram Road.

Therefore, “Staff could not write a staff report recommending approval,” a spokesperson for the Town told The Pointer in an email statement. “The MZO request did not conform with the Provincial Plans, Peel Official Plan, and the Town of Caledon Official Plan. The request was not consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) and with Conservation Authorities regulations and policies. Another reason is that servicing is not in place.”

Despite this misrepresentation of who was in support of the MZO, no steps were taken by the Town’s current council to rectify the situation. Ward 3 Councillor Doug Maskell, whose ward includes the site at 12245 Torbram Road, brought forward three motions on May 23 requesting council repudiate the actions of Thompson, send a letter to Minister Clark asking for the MZO to be revoked and file an FOI for communications between Thompson and Clark prior to the MZO being issued. The majority of council voted to repudiate the actions of Thompson, but the other two motions lost with only Maskell in favour. 

Following an investigation by The Pointer into the matter, Official Opposition Leader of the Ontario NDP Marit Stiles demanded Premier Doug Ford and Minister Clark consider retracting the MZO. Her request, made in question period on May 11, received little response from the PC majority. 

Council’s “do nothing” attitude was exemplified again during the public meeting Wednesday. Councillor Nick deBoer, who was chairing the meeting, admitted that on his almost two decades on council he had never seen a process unfold as this one had, but when further peppered with questions the tone changed and he repeatedly asked the delegates to keep their comments to the site plan application specifically.

“The fact is that the minister did issue an MZO,” deBoer stated. “What we want to do is we want to listen to the neighbors to minimize the impact. The Rice Group has come here today because they want to hear from the residents to find out how they can minimize the impact.”

Councillor deBoer, who had previously voted against all three of Maskell’s motions, did little to ease the minds of residents who voiced their mistrustful of Council after they were not informed about a major development in their own backyard — most residents only became aware of the plan from Councillor Maskell who went door knocking after finding out about the MZO himself in April. Mayor Annette Groves later admitted she learned about the MZO when Thompson handed her the letter he wrote before resigning as mayor. 

“I don't know how you minimize the impact on the 21 residents that are involved when basically this is a set done deal,” John Rutter, a resident of Caledon who has previously delegated on the matter, stated. “This is a public information session, it’s just a formality.”


The MZO contains minimum and maximum height constraints and setbacks that the applicant must adhere to. It was not mentioned how closely the warehouse development will encroach on the six homes that back right onto the development.

(Alexis Wright/The Pointer)


Town staff explained that under the MZO there would be certain constraints on the development when it came to minimums and maximums on things like building heights and setbacks; however, the purpose of the public meeting was to receive feedback and see how they could work within those constraints in order to construct the development with the least amount of impact on the surrounding community. 

The major issues raised by residents related to impacts on air quality; truck traffic and road safety; degradation of rural roads; carbon emissions; and reforestation. 

Rice Group did not respond to The Pointer’s request for comment on what it plans to do about these concerns or how any issues raised during the public meetings will be mitigated.

The strongest plea from residents was a demand for compensation for those who live in the immediate vicinity of the warehouse development. One resident who spoke at the meeting lives adjacent to the site and expressed frustration that residents of Tullamore were not informed about the process in a time that would have allowed them the opportunity to sell their homes.

“Planting more trees and lessening noise and dust does not even begin to scratch the surface of mitigating the consequences us residents will face as a result of this project. Sure, planting trees and lessening the noise is a nice gesture. But what about compensating the residents financially?” Bipanpreet Kandola, a resident living on Torbram Road, asked. “How are we going to mitigate the loss of the value of our homes, the loss of the enjoyment of our lands and the loss of the financial investments we have made in renovations and what we thought would be our retirement homes in a quiet countryside neighborhood?”

Councillor Maskell previously told The Pointer that some of the residents he spoke with assumed some sort of development was happening because they could see the fencing surrounding the area. However many thought that it would be a subdivision, a more desirable option than industrial warehousing.

Residents appealed to the Town and to Rice Group to buy the properties of the homes that will now be surrounded by industrial operations, allowing homeowners to have some agency and receive full market value for their properties. The request fell on deaf ears.

“I believe conversations regarding compensation or market values are outside of what we're looking at,” Aarthi Thaya, development manager for Rice Group, said. “Rice Group is not in the business of buying people out of their homes.”

Under the PC government, MZOs have become much more commonplace, turning from a tool used in emergency situations to being used for the approvals of residential development across Ontario. As the threat of MZOs increases, residents are becoming concerned that they could see more examples like what happened in Mississauga’s Lakeview Village where almost two decades of planning was overthrown by a snap decision of the PC government. As angry as residents are with the MZO for east Caledon, their main concern is ensuring that Council keeps the lines of communications open and does what they are elected to do, make decisions with the best interest of the public in mind. 

“I understand that you can't reverse what's already been done and we have to move forward,” Kandola said. “But these questions need to be answered. So someone takes accountability, and this doesn't happen again to another section of Caledon.”



Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @rachelnadia_

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