Planning should determine Vale’s request – by Brian MacLeod (Sudbury Star – November 17, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

It is the city’s planning committee, not the labour board, that is considering whether to allow Vale to temporarily house workers on its properties, so committee members should consider the request with sound planning principles in mind.

And while the request is obviously not good planning, temporary exemptions to planning regulations are not uncommon. If the city’s planners feel this can be done safely, and it’s a necessary requirement, councillors should consider placing restrictions on how the housing is used, such as a time limit that would require the company to reapply for an exemption.

In June, Vale began work on a historic $2-billion Clean ARE project to retrofit and upgrade its smelter. The largest environmental project of its kind in Sudbury’s history is expected to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions at the Copper Cliff smelter by 70%, bringing emissions down to 45 kilotonnes per year, well below the regulatory limit of 66 kilotonnes per year.

It’s a project that’s of enormous benefit to the city, not just for the obvious environmental advantages, but that amount of money spent on materials and labour is a major boost to the economy. Up to 70% of the money may be spent locally. But since the city has, for years, had a low vacancy rate, Vale says it needs to be ready to house an influx of workers that could hit 1,300 at peak construction in 2014/15.

As it happens, the contract with Local 6500 of the United Steelworkers runs out at the end of May 2015.

During a year-long strike in 2009/10, Vale housed workers onsite while it operated the plants — a move that the city felt at the time violated its bylaws. Indeed, the city saw no clear way to allow this kind of housing.

City staff determined that housing workers onsite did not constitute a legal, non-conforming use.

For the rest of this article, please go to the Sudbury Star website:–planning-should-determine-vales-request