Sawmill ordered to remove chip pile

Monte Sonnenberg

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

A large pile of wood chips at Townsend Lumber near Tillsonburg. (Postmedia Network Photo)

A large pile of wood chips at Townsend Lumber near Tillsonburg. (Postmedia Network Photo)

The largest saw mill and lumber yard operation in Norfolk County is under orders to clean up a massive pile of wood chips.


Norfolk County has given Townsend Lumber near Tillsonburg till July 25 to remove a pile of wood chips that have accumulated near its frontage with Goshen Road.

This week, Chris Baird, Norfolk’s general manager of development and culture, confirmed that Townsend Lumber will be charged if it doesn’t comply.

“There clearly is a conflict,” Baird said. “Enforcement activity is underway. This is a legitimate concern and we responded accordingly.”

Norfolk acted after residents complained that Townsend Lumber is violating Ontario Municipal Board orders to maintain a 350-metre buffer between Goshen Road and its saw mill operation. These orders date back to 1999 and beyond.

Patricia Booy-Heath of Goshen Road lives next to the Townsend property. She told Norfolk council this week that activity within the 350-metre exclusion zone infringes on her ability to enjoy her home.

“Aside from the fear of fire, I’m not looking forward to another summer of smelling fermented wood chips,” Booy-Heath said. “This whole situation is stressful. It has cost me time and money I never should have had to spend.”

For their part, Townsend Lumber is dealing with the complaints.

“Townsend Lumber is working with Norfolk County to resolve any issues,” general manager Mike Penner said Thursday. “That’s the only comment I can make right now.”

Earlier this year, Norfolk public works granted Townsend Lumber permission to modify an entryway off Goshen Road. In March, the entryway was widened considerably to accommodate truck traffic.

Lee Robinson, Norfolk’s general manager of public works, told council this week that the entryway improvements are legal. The OMB rulings, she said, are silent on what Townsend Lumber can do with entryways in the 350-metre exclusion zone.

For her part, Booy-Heath said the changes will have a significant impact on the residential district along Goshen Road.

“This driveway causes me a great deal of hardship and will make my property almost impossible to sell,” she said in a letter to the county in April. “There are residences all along the south side of Goshen Road and it is also a negative impact to them. Townsend’s existing driveways on Jackson Side Road do not impact any residences and should be the ones used for trucks.”