Skip to main content

'Traffic concerns, the noise pollution, the light pollution': Volkswagen deal is done, but concerns remain about what is to come


A day after the deal for the new Volkswagen battery plant had been formally announced in St. Thomas, Ont., tree clearing on the site was accelerating.

Rural neighbours said they still don't know what to expect, including Diane Dubois.

"The traffic concerns, the noise pollution, the light pollution,” she said.

Dubois and Tom Martin have lived on their Edgeware Line property for four decades. The property has been with the Martin family for almost a century. There's been change during that time, but nothing like the change about to take place, with the 1,500 acre property near home becoming the home to what is termed a “gigafactory” because of expected production levels.

Martin's biggest concern is for the impact on the agriculture industry.

"Hopefully Volkswagen will come to some understanding of how agriculture works in this neighbourhood and that we can all try to get along together,” he said.

Concerns have been expressed about the loss of 700 acres of farmland in Central Elgin, annexed for the plant in St. Thomas.

Clearing of the land to be used for the Volkswagen E-V battery plant in St. Thomas, Ont. picked up after the project was formally announced on March 13, 2023. (Gerry Dewan/CTV News London)

At the London Farm Show on Friday, Elgin-Middlesex-London Conservative MPP Rob Flack said the farm yields in Ontario have consistently grown in recent years and will continue to grow, even with the loss of this land. He added that the plant will bolster the local economy, and agriculture will benefit.

"It's going to ultimately lead to bringing thousands of jobs that have been lost in the last number of decades,” he said. “So, yes, while we're concerned about keeping good arable land, it's about balance.”

"Transition to electric vehicles is happening and it would be a shame if our manufacturing sector was left out of it,” added Brendan Sweeney, the managing director of the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing, a non-profit agency based at Western University.

Sweeney is confident Volkswagen will work to address the concerns of neighbours.

The property owned by Tom Martin and Diane Dubois sits near to where the Volkswagen E-V battery plant will be in St. Thomas, Ont. (Gerry Dewan/CTV News London)

"It's going to be sleek, it's going to be modern,” he said. “This going to be one of the most modern, low-emitting plants."

One of the primary concerns for Martin and Dubois is a stand of trees used as a wind-break at the back of their property. The wind break sits along Ron McNeil Line, just east of St. Thomas.

Ron McNeil is slated to be widened as part of the plant build. The couple is hoping the path of the road can be shifted to prevent any loss of their trees. It's one of a number of neighbour issues likely to arise as the project continues. Top Stories

Stay Connected