Hawkesbury could soon be home to a fiber optics research and development facility.

On October 11, in one of its final items of business before the municipal election, Hawkesbury town council approved a Zoning By-law Amendment (ZBA) and Official Plan Amendment (OPA), to facilitate plans by O/E Land Inc. to build a new research and development centre on a vacant lot fronting Main Street west, near a right-of-way for the extension of Chartrand Street.

The applications for the ZBA and OPA were received by the town on September 6 and the required public meeting was held on September 29. No comments about the proposed ZBA, OPA, or research centre from the public were received at or following the public meeting.

O/E Land is a Lasalle, Québec-based company. According to information provided to the Town of Hawkesbury by O/E Land, the company manufactures Fiber Bragg Grating products, Laser and Light Source products, Mid Infrared Photonics products, products for instrumentation and biomedical applications, and passive fiber optic components.

O/E Land projects the new facility will offer five, high-quality jobs during its first year of operation, and more than 15 new jobs will be created during the first three years of operation. The company also believes the research and development facility will help attract other high-tech companies from Montreal and Ottawa to Hawkesbury.

The proposed facility in Hawkesbury will be 6,000 square feet and the company hopes to build it in 2023.

The OPA involved amending the Town of Hawkesbury’s Official Plan to grant an exemption to allow a research centre in an area otherwise designated as a Community Commercial Policy Area. The ZBA involved changing the zoning on the site of the proposed facility from Commercial Highway (CH) to Commercial Highway with exemption (CH-X) to permit a research facility.

Staff identified that the proposed facility conforms to the Provincial Policy Statement on land use planning.

The development will still be subject to site plan control. As of October 11, no application for a site plan had yet been submitted by O/E Land to the Town of Hawkesbury.

There was no further discussion among councillors on October 11 about the ZBA, OPA, and the proposed fiber optic research and development facility before council approved the by-laws making the changes. The motion to approve the OPA by-law was moved by Councillor Robert Lefebvre and seconded by Councillor Raymond Campbell. Councillor Antonios Tsourounakis moved to approve the ZBA by-law, and Councillor Lawrence Bogue seconded the motion.

Drawing of proposed O/E Land fiber optic research and development facility in Hawkesbury. Map from O/E Land information presented to Hawkesbury council.