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‘Hidden Quarry’ again appealed to Ontario Municipal Board

Round two - James Dick Construction has appealed Guelph-Eramosa Township and Wellington County’s non-decisions regarding rezoning and an Official Plan amendment for a new quarry southeast of Rockwood at Highway 7 and 6th Line to the Ontario Municipal Board.   Advertiser file photo

‘Hidden Quarry’ again appealed to Ontario Municipal Board

by Jaime Myslik

ROCKWOOD - James Dick Construction Ltd. (JDCL) has once again appealed its application for a quarry southeast of Rockwood to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).

Over the past couple of months JDCL first appealed Guelph-Eramosa Township’s non-decision on a zoning bylaw amendment and then Wellington County’s non-decision for an Official Plan amendment permitting aggregate mining at the “Hidden Quarry” site.

 “These applications are exactly the same applications we made back in 2012 and they’ve been fully vetted and fully peer reviewed,” said JDCL vice president of resources Greg Sweetnam in an interview. “In fact we had to pay the township $740,000 in peer review costs and all the peer reviews came back and said there was no problem with the quarry.

“This go around wasn’t a new application, it was just a continuation of the old application ... It’s just a technical matter to get the applications back in front of the Ontario Municipal Board.”

The 24.8-hectare (61.3 acre) quarry operation application process began in December of 2012 when JDCL applied for a rezoning bylaw amendment for lands southeast of Rockwood - from agriculture and hazard land to extractive industrial - to make way for a quarry. At the time a Wellington County Official Plan amendment was not necessary.

In May 2015 JDCL appealed the application for the quarry at Highway 7 and 6th Line in Guelph-Eramosa to the OMB for the first time after Guelph-Eramosa Township council failed to make a decision within the two year period.

However, council chose to oppose the quarry application as it stood in October 2015, despite planning consultant Elizabeth Howson, of Macaulay Shiomi Howson Ltd., recommending approval in-principal with conditions.

In July 2016 Guelph-Eramosa council once again voted to oppose the quarry but chose not to participate in the OMB proceedings. However, councillors David Wolk and Corey Woods opposed the resolution largely because they said JDCL had met all of the conditions set out the previous October.

Then in October 2016 the OMB hearing was put on hold almost before it began when an opposition lawyer brought it to OMB vice chair Steve Stefanko’s attention that the zoning bylaw amendment was filed for a bylaw that no longer existed. In the summer of 2016 Guelph-Eramosa had completed a review to repeal and replace its entire comprehensive zoning bylaw making the 2012 JDCL quarry rezoning application inaccurate. However, JDCL’s Aggregate Resources Act license application was to remain at the board until the rezoning application was brought back under the township’s new comprehensive zoning bylaw.

JDCL immediately filed another amendment application for both a Guelph-Eramosa zoning bylaw amendment and a Wellington County Official Plan amendment, which was now necessary for the lands. They were each deemed complete in December.

Once the 120- and 180-day decision-making periods for the township and Wellington County respectively were up, Sweetnam said JDCL chose to appeal the non-decisions once again to the OMB.

“We basically had to make a technical application, which we did, and when the period under the Planning Act was expired we were able to appeal that and bring it back together with the Aggregate Resources Act application which is already before the Ontario Municipal Board,” he said.

Guelph-Eramosa Mayor Chris White said the township was unable to make a decision in the allotted 120-day period because it is still waiting for information from Wellington County and from the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA).

“The GRCA has asked for more water studies so that’s the one thing right now that’s very different from the township end and obviously would affect the county as well,” White said.

“There’s some other concerns raised about the water and so from the township perspective, we need to see what the GRCA is going to say at this point before proceeding, assuming that they’ll be able to get something in a reasonable period of time.”

He added that because the Official Plan could override a zoning decision it made sense to wait for Wellington County to make an Official Plan decision before Guelph-Eramosa makes a zoning decision.

Apart from those two additional commenting and reviewing bodies, White said the application is largely unchanged from the previous application.

“Basically we’re still in a holding pattern but the difference is now we’re up against a ticking clock, somewhat, because we’ve been triggered to go to the OMB and I believe that’s where you’re going to start seeing some deadlines,” he said.

Wellington County director of planning and development Aldo Salis said the county’s next steps are in the hands of its solicitors.

“At this point it’s too early to know what that would be,” he said.

He noted that it’s not unusual for an Official Plan amendment decision-making process to surpass the 180-day limit.

“The expectation would have been that they would have appealed regardless of how quickly or slowly it would have moved,” Salis said.

“The matter is going to a hearing because the (Aggregate Resources Act) license has been objected to so it would have eventually ended up at the Ontario Municipal Board but in terms of our process we are waiting completion of our peer review process and comments from our consultants.”

The county is reviewing natural heritage, in particular the woodlands area, and moraine policies.

Now the decision to approve or deny the rezoning and Official Plan amendments at the township or county level is irrelevant. The OMB will make the final decision.

July 14, 2017


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