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Wellington County council has no objections to Neubauer pit proposal

by David Meyer

GUELPH - County council voted on June 30 to inform the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) it has no objections to the proposal for the Neubauer pit in Puslinch Township.

The proposal has been under consideration since 2009 and its proponent, St. Mary’s Cement, applied for an official plan amendment, as well as an aggregate licence for the 70-acre property south of Highway 401.

Because of the delay in a decision, the company has appealed to the OMB.

Puslinch councillors refused to support the application  because they thought the Ministry of Natural Resources was unable to justify changes to the boundary of a nearby Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI).

The purpose of the official plan amendment is to extend the mineral aggregate boundary to include a portion of the Neubauer property and to amend the boundary of the ANSI to reflect a recent provincial decision.

The  county planning committee had the proposal and decision peer reviewed.

Mayor Dennis Lever and Puslinch council opposed the ministry’s boundary changes in March. Lever said MNR officials offered no scientific reasoning for altering the boundary of the Galt Moraine ANSI, one of 500 in the province that has been identified as having earth science values related to natural heritage protection, scientific study or education.

The original ANSI, established in 2000, is oval-shaped with a meandering boundary that does not seem to follow any other geological or transportation features in the area. The revised boundary approved last April is smaller, with straight edges; and it appears to follow many property lines and roads and does not include most of the Neubauer pit property near the corner of Concessions 2 and 7.

According to the MNR, the new boundary “best represents the core features of the moraine, which have remained relatively intact and as much as possible free of cultural features.”

However, according to Lever, the ministry “decided to draw a line somewhere on a map” - and until that issue was rectified he refused to support the application for an official plan amendment and a zoning change.

St. Mary’s applied to rezone 28.3 hectares (70 acres) from an agricultural designation to an extraction industrial zone. The extraction area would be about 24.5 hectares (60 acres) and produce about 750,000 tonnes of material every year - with 100,000 coming from below the water table - and about nine million tonnes in total.

The county planning committee report noted not only Puslinch council, but also citizens from the area, had concerns about the proposal. The county authorized a peer review of the proposal by Dr. John Menzies, a geoscientist at Brock University. He presented his report on the MNR’s boundary proposal in June.

His report stated normal guidelines were followed, and the use of a straight line to define core ANSI features is reasonable.

Menzies further noted the MNR boundary does not result in any loss of significant core ANSI. He also reported that a minor boundary adjustment could have been made to reflect a kettle area, but in his opinion, the MNR’s choice of boundary was reasonable in the circumstances.

He added a small portion of the area is “of no geological significance nor merit that is not duplicated through the local area many times over.”

After council approved its action to drop its concerns with the OMB, Lever thanked the committee for having the peer review done. He noted that it was unfortunate the MNR had rejected a Puslinch council invitation to discuss the ANSI boundary issue.

He added some officials apparently think aggregate companies are “unable to extract in a straight line. They can.”

July 22, 2011


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