St. Clair Township in the running for $3-billion battery plant: MP

St Clair Township in the running for 3 billion battery plant

Federal cash to expand St. Clair Township’s sewage treatment capacity could help the municipality land a multi-billion-dollar battery manufacturing site, says Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu.

Sarnia-Lambton MP Marilyn Gladu says St. Clair Township is in the running to be home to a new $3-billion battery manufacturing plant which, if it goes ahead, would be the third battery manufacturing site in the region.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Two giant electric vehicle battery plants expected to employ thousands of workers are now under construction in Southwestern Ontario, one being built by auto maker Stellantis in Windsor and another by auto giant Volkswagen in St. Thomas.

Article content

“Nothing has been confirmed about an EV plant yet,” Jeff Agar, mayor of St. Clair Township, said Monday.

“I’m aware there was one who was looking at that location and, as far as I know, still is,” said Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley. “It would have regional impact.”

Bradley said the proposal by a company that hasn’t been disclosed to local officials has “been around the area for at least a year” and “there’s some issues there with servicing St. Clair is trying to address.”

The “main limiting factor for us to stay in the game” is that once Diageo opens a whiskey distillery it announced for St. Clair Township, the St. Clair Township’s Courtright waste water treatment plant will reach 90 per cent of its capacity, Gladu said .

Advertisement 3

Article content

“In order to secure the site as an option” for the proposed battery plant “we have to have” funding to upgrade that waste water plant, she said.

Gladu said she received a presentation from the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership “on what was required” and approached Sean Fraser, Canada’s housing, infrastructure and communities minister, and Francois-Phillippe Champagne, minister of innovation, science and industry, in early March about federal funding for the sewage system upgrade.

“We need at least a commitment letter in order to keep the process going,” she said. “Hopefully, they’ll move quickly.”

Agar said the township is looking for federal and provincial funding to help it expand its Courtright waste water treatment plant.

Advertisement 4

Article content

Jeff Agar, mayor of St. Clair Township, is shown in this file photo speaking during a Lambton County council meeting earlier this year. Photo by Paul Morden /The Observer

The expansion, which is in the engineering and environmental assessment stage, is currently expected to cost $45 million to $50 million, Agar said.

“I’m really grateful for the MP’s help and support” in pursuing federal funding for an expansion, he said.

The Courtright plant collects and treats waste water from the township communities of Corunna, Mooretown and Courtright, as well as outlying industrial areas.

“We have lots of industrial space” for additional development, “but the province and feds, they must help us out financially,” to expand sewage treatment capacity to accommodate any new industries, Agar said.

The Courtright treatment plant was built more than a decade ago for about $30 million, with contributions from the federal and provincial governments.

Advertisement 5

Article content

“Obviously, there would be some great job creation to go along with this and they already spent $30-billion and upwards in taxpayer dollars on two other battery plants” in Windsor and St. Thomas, Gladu said about the request for federal funding for St. .Clair Township.

The cost of the sewage system upgrade is “a small pittance in comparison, so we’ll see if the government comes through,” she said.

The Sarnia-area “has a lot of advantages,” Gladu said about the competition for battery manufacturing sites.

“We’re very close to the automotive makers in Michigan and Ontario,” she said. “There’s a lot of opportunity. And I think we have a lot of the infrastructure and the talent, so there’s a lot of things we have going for us.”

Government funding to help St. Clair Township expand its sewage capacity “would put us in a very good position,” Gladu said.

[email protected]

Article content