Aikensville pit goes back to start for licence – to save time

The application for a gravel pit licence here had been re-started in order to save time spent in court appeals.

Capital Paving is going back to the consultation pro­cess for its aggregate licence in Puslinch Township – a decision it reached recently after county council rejected an official plan amendment for the pit last month.

The proposed pit is located on part of Lot 13, 14, and 15 at Concession 3 in Puslinch. The com­pany was seeking an offi­cial plan amendment that would have allowed the town­ship to pass a zone change. The result of that would allow the company to extract about 1.5 million tonnes of gravel from the property.

Capital lawyer Peter Pick­field said in an interview on Tuesday that starting over is a “purely procedural issue raised in front of the [Ontario Muni­cipal Board] by CARRA.”

That is the Cranberry Area Residents and Ratepayers As­so­ciation, which has opposed the gravel pit since the appli­cation was filed in early 2005.

Pickfield said the CARRA group had filed a motion with the OMB stating that there were procedural errors during the licence application. He said he believes Capital can win that argument at the OMB, but then CARRA could tie up that de­cision in court for years.

He said Capital officials decided that starting over with the licence application might take only eight to ten months, so it made more sense to do that.

Pickfield said Capital had received a number of letters from residents, many of them a single page, and the company took those to be “concerns” about its proposal. “They argue we received a series of objec­tions.”

Pickfield said Capital check­­ed with the Ministry of En­vironment, and officials there told the company to con­sider the letters as “concerns.”

He added, “Nobody was rais­­ing new issues.”

Pickfield said county coun­cil voted to approve the official plan last fall.

However, in January, that council sent the issue back to its planning committee, after two readings of the bylaw approving the official plan.

The committee eventually came back to county council with a tied vote in March, and after much discussion, council defeated third reading of the bylaw.

Capital has appealed to the OMB on the official plan and argues the process took too long.

County planner Gary Cousins said in an interview Tuesday that the official plan, zoning bylaw, and the licence are all separate processes, but the municipal board wants to deal with all of them at the same time.

He said the official plan will not be coming back to county council.

Pickfield said starting the consultations and public meet­ings all over again will mean a quicker process for Capital, and, he added, it will likely finish at the OMB.

“Let the people with con­cerns come forward,” he said, adding that the company will be presenting “exactly the same application.”

As for the county council rejecting the official plan amendment, Pickfield said that occurred on the political level when one or two councillors changed their votes. The issue has been divisive, with votes usually within one or two at county council.

“We think in the end we can work at the county with this,” Pickfield concluded, but added, “We’re carrying on at the OMB.”

He concluded, “In the end, we hope the county sees it as a good proposal.”

A surprise

Dennis Lever, a spokesman for CARRA, said in an inter­view on Tuesday the sudden shift back to the beginning of the process is “a bit of a sur­prise in some ways.”

He added CARRA was cer­tain it would win its argument about the way the process was completed.

“We knew the process was flawed,” he said, citing the way notice was given of the pro­po­sal, and “who was an objector.”

He agreed with Pickfield on one issue. “It could end up in court for years.”

And, he said “This is the farthest thing from a normal appli­cation as you can get.”

Meanwhile, he said, Pus­linch council can do nothing about Capital’s proposed zone change to aggre­gate extraction because the official plan need­ed approval before the zone change can be completed. He said that will be decided at the OMB

At county council in March, councillor Lou Maieron had argued the county defer the issue until the snow melt was complete, because part of the technical concerns included the high water level at the pit.

Maieron lost that bid, but with this new delay, officials on all sides will now have plenty of time to determine the high water level.

Lever noted that there is plenty of water in the pit lo­cation.