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Erin council defers decision on gravel pit citing outstanding concerns

by Olivia Rutt

ERIN - Council here deferred a motion to support the Halton Crushed Stone (HCS) gravel pit extension application during a packed meeting on May 17.

The council chamber was standing room only, and people spilled into the hallway to hear HCS land use planner James Parkin, county planner Aldo Salis, concerned resident Robyn Johnstone and the decision of council.

HCS is applying for an official plan amendment (OPA) for one portion of its northward expansion (southwest of the 10th Line) that is already zoned for aggregate extraction, as well as an OPA and zoning amendment for the other portion of the extension (northeast of the 10th line).

The expansion would extend the pit on both sides of the 10th Line from Sideroad 10 to Wellington Road 52, adding 150 acres to the existing pit.

The current gravel pit was initially licensed in the 1970s under previous owner Dufferin Aggregates. Halton Crushed Stone (HCS) bought the property in 2014 and has been extracting aggregate since.

HCS is looking for council’s support of its application to get official plan amendment approval from Wellington County. If approved, the matter would return to Erin for a zoning bylaw and Erin official plan amendment

“The outcome we seek is your support,” said Parkin.

“If full support isn’t forthcoming, then we’re looking for your direction that town representatives would continue to work with Halton Crushed Stone on the areas you may be concerned about.”

Council’s apprehension to support the application surrounds two key areas: the set back from the urban boundary and the ancillary asphalt recycling operation.

‘Area C’

At a March 6 public meeting, residents objected the proposed 60-metre setback from Erin’s urban boundary and residential properties in the northwest corner of area C of the application.

The property, already zoned for extraction, was the subject of a 1976 Ontario Municipal Board hearing. The ruling suggests the zoning was granted for this parcel with the understanding that it would be mined before any subdivision was built.

“Eventually many areas such as this must be utilized if building and construction costs are to be maintained at as low a level as possible,” states the OMB decision from 1976.

“It is perhaps better now before more development occurs, than later.”

However, extraction of the northern part of the Concession 10 parcel never occurred.

Councillor John Brennan said while the application seems to “check all the boxes,” he wants more done on the setback issue.

“What we refer to as area C, which is the area most in contention because that’s the closest to the Aspen Court folks, that’s already zoned for aggregate extraction,” said Brennan.

“The zoning that we will be working on is actually area D, which is further to the east and I suppose that in a sense, the leverage we have to gain successions in area C, is the approval of area D.”

Recycling

If granted approval, HCS would be licensed for a maximum annual production limit of 725,600 tonnes. The company is also requesting the allowance for recycling of aggregate material on the eastern portion of the property.

Salis said provincial policy supports this as an ancillary use, with requirements for storage to be at least two metres from the water table and 30m from surface water. In April, HSC said it would monitor water quality down gradient of recycling areas.

However, councillors were still concerned.

“In order to make sure that there is no harmful effect from this, we need a monitoring process,” said Brennan.

“I said this the last time, I don’t believe groundwater monitoring is adequate. I think by the time it gets into the groundwater, we already have a problem, so I certainly want to see some kind of testing for leeching above the ground.”

Petition

Johnstone presented a petition signed by 772 people  asking council not reject the HCS expansion.

“We are not in opposition to the aggregate industry; we appreciate that we live in a beautiful part of Ontario where this industry is abundant,” she said.

Johnstone raised issues with the proximity of the northwestern boundary to a residential area, exposure to crystalline silica, dust mitigation, hours of operation, and groundwater monitoring.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety says dust from soil, sand, granite and other minerals can contain crystalline silica, a known carcinogen that can lead to fatal lung and kidney disease.

“At this proximity of so many residential homes and families with over 400 homes and a child care centre within a one-kilometre radius of this location, this is a big deal,” said Johnstone.

She said HCS’s willingness to negotiate is appreciated, “But negotiations should be completed well before this file is elevated to the county for the official plan.

Johnstone asked for area C to be excluded from the application or at least a 300m set back from the urban boundary.

“We cannot move forward with this application as it stands; the people are saying no,” she said.

“They have taken the time to sign this petition, leave their comments, write letter after letter ... because we are relying on you to protect our best interests. The people are here today, a full house, because this issue directly affects them; the children who are here today are the ones most affected by your vote,” she said as several children walked into council chambers. “These are the direct kids that live 60 metres from where this full-blown pit operation will be happening. They don’t have a choice in all of this, but you do.”

Johnstone’s comments received a lengthy round of applause from the gallery.

Brennan thanked her for her comments, later adding being a councillor can be difficult.

“I can’t see how we get something that will satisfy everybody’s needs here. I would hate to live next to a gravel pit,” said Brennan.

“I don’t see any way of having local control to stop these things; I only see a way for us to gain concessions to make the burden easier on the people who are forced to live nearby.”

Councillor Jeff Duncan said the conversation so far has been reasonable. He urged HCS to “think strongly” about council’s primary issues of the setback and recycling.

Council voted unanimously to defer to “provide an opportunity for town staff and planning staff to obtain additional information, explore options to address outstanding town concerns related to the proposed pit.”

Councillor Matt Sammut declared a conflict of interest due to the pit’s proximity to his house, but he later reiterated his objection to the application as a resident.

May 25, 2018

 
 

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