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Farmers, grocers raise concerns about the future of the Ontario Food Terminal

Last Updated May 14, 2019 at 8:25 am EDT

Food storage at the Ontario Food Terminal in Etobicoke.

Farmers and grocers are voicing their concerns over the uncertain future of the Ontario Food Terminal.

The Ford government is reviewing options for the Food Terminal, located near the Gardiner Expressway and Park Lawn Road.

“We are just beginning our independent review of the Ontario Food Terminal,” the province said in a statement.

“MNP LLP, a leading accounting, tax and business consulting firm in Canada with a key area of focus in agriculture, is conducting an in-depth, independent assessment of the opportunities and challenges for economic growth at the OFT. Work has started, with a final report due in the summer.”

But those who use the terminal say they’re worried the economic growth the government is looking for, could be the land.

CityNews asked the province if selling the land that the food processing hub sits was an option they would consider but they did not provide an answer.

“The Ontario Food Terminal plays a key role in Ontario agriculture – and will continue to do so,” Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, said.

“The Ontario government is looking at opportunities to strengthen the Food Terminal and ensure its long-term success for the next 50 years, including whether there are opportunities to replace more of the imported food sold at the terminal with Ontario grown food.”

The province is also looking at ways to increase the use of technology and modernize the terminal for the future.

About 5,000 people work at the Ontario Food Terminal.

Steve Bamford, a fourth generation wholesaler and producer, said some of the speculation among grocers and farmers is that the terminal will be relocated — which he says is concerning.

“We’ve heard places such as Guelph and Hamilton … which we’re defiantly opposed to because of the central location we’re currently at here, it’s great for our employees, it’s great for our producers and great for our customers,” he said.

“There would definitely be more transportation involved … we worry that a number of customers wouldn’t be able to get to these locations and then be able to get back to their store or restaurant to be able to do the other business that they need to do.”

Bamford said they have reached out to the province and had a few small meetings about their concerns over the future of the terminal. He said he hopes the province takes their concerns into consideration as part of the review.

If the terminal is moved, the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers says higher transportation costs could send your grocery bill soaring.