Two visions for the future of Rosedale clashed at a meeting called by Tycrop manufacturing Thursday to unveil the company’s plans in the community.
One pictures Rosedale as a centre of manufacturing innovation and invention.
The other hopes for a return to a quiet, pastoral farming community.
Tycrop co-owners Gary Teichrob, Scott Mason, and Dave Keck said the latter isn’t going to happen.
“I will tell you,” said Mason, “We’re not going anywhere.”
Company officials called the meeting – which drew about 250 people – following speculation about Tycrop’s plans for the area. That speculation, said Mason, is at best premature, but much of it is wrong, “insulting,” even “rubbish.”
He said Tycrop is committed to enhancing its operation in Rosedale – a community it has called home for more than 30 years. It wants to consolidate and redevelop its existing properties, and hopes to eventually double its size with an expansion onto property it recently purchased south of the CN rail tracks.
It is that property that has sparked the most discussion. The land is currently in the Agricultural Land Reserve – something Tycrop hopes to change through an application to the Agricultrual Land Commission.
Gary Teichrob said that application has yet to be filed, but when it is it will contain a proposal that will enhance agriculture in the area, not harm it.
But that argument failed to sway some in the audience.
Indeed, some wondered if Tycrop should consider moving, rather than expanding.
“I think, you’ve outgrown the community,” said one man.
“The way I see it,” said another, “you guys are turning Rosedale into an industrial park.”
The owners dismissed that suggestion. They said Tycrop has, and will continue to be, an important part of Rosedale. Of the 300 people it employs, roughly 270 live in the Rosedale/Chilliwack area. Their pay cheques help fuel the local economy, providing additional jobs in other sectors, and providing important tax revenue.
Rather than leave, the company wants to invest $30 million in an ambitious upgrade that will modernize and contain its manufacturing operation indoors, providing a better work environment for its employees and less noise and disruption for its neighbours.
“If we want to be a company that wants to compete and retain its 300 employees, it has to modernize,” said Mason. “That’s what will make us able to compete in a global economy.”
The plan calls for two large buildings, on either side of McGrath Road. Drawings, released for the first time at the meeting, show tree-lined streets, side walks, and a new multi-storey administration building.
Phase 2 of the plan would involve expansion south of the rail line, with the addition of another 300 employees.
But that expansion can’t take place without the ALC’s blessing. For that to happen, Tycrop must ensure there is no net loss of farmland in the area, and an overall net benefit to the agriculture sector in the province.
Teichrob said the company will be crafting a proposal it hopes will meet the ALC’s stringent criteria. But Mason insisted the entire process has been – and will continue to be – above board.
“We don’t have any friends downtown pulling strings for Tycrop,” he said. “We are a straight up company.”
Asked by one resident why Tycrop doesn’t build its new facility on existing industrial property within Chilliwack, Teichrob said the company’s strength comes from its people. Separate facilities at different locations would dilute that strength, he argued.
“It really works well, if you have an inventive company, if you keep all your brain trust in one place,” he said,
Residents also cited concerns about traffic – now and if the expansion goes ahead.
Teichrob said the company will be working with the City of Chilliwack to ensure traffic flows are improved.
Company owners said that while they can empathize with the community’s concerns, Rosedale has, and will continue to, evolve.
“You have to understand, change does happen,” said Teichrob.